A slight dip in the city’s main economic indicator this month may be directly related to fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This month’s $410,066 check from the state comptroller’s office directly reflects sales tax paid in August, the traditional time for back-to-school shopping. This year, however, only about a third of local students returned to physical classrooms when instruction got under way.
The city sales tax rebate, meanwhile, was down 2 percent, leaving the city up 5.5 percent for the calendar year.
“We’re in the first month of the new fiscal year and not alarmed that the sales tax declined slightly. If this trend continues and we finish FY21 2 percent less than FY20 revenue, we’ll still exceed our budgeted estimates for sales tax,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said, adding, “In the past, we’ve seen shifts of less than 5 percent and expect to see signs of an upturn in the next few months.”
The rebates are the second largest revenue source for the municipal budget, paying into the General Fund which covers everything from street maintenance to the staff at City Hall.
Last month, the city’s sales tax rebate check was up 17.56 percent from September 2019.
El Campo ended the 2019 calendar year up 10.11 percent on sales tax rebates.
In 2018, El Campo sales tax rebates were up about 9 percent. The last year that ended with a sales tax loss was 2016, when collections were down 3.41 percent.
Other Wharton County Reports
Wharton County’s sales tax rebate rose 10.98 percent in October and are now up 3.81 percent for the year.
The county finished 2019 up just .61 percent more than in 2018, the second year of an almost stagnant economy. For 2018, county sales taxes were up .43 percent.
The city of Wharton’s return was up 9.3 percent in October, but remains down 1.06 percent in comparison to 2019. The town ended 2019 down 1.89 percent. In 2018, the city’s rebates were up 6.38 percent. In 2017, Wharton dropped 4.8 percent.
East Bernard’s check rose 9.07 percent this month. So far this year, East Bernard’s sales tax rebates are up 8.27 percent.
The city recorded a 13.55 percent jump in 2019. That city’s rebates were up 20.9 percent in 2018.