By SHANNON CRABTREE
El Campo’s economy remains strong, according to the main state indicator, even showing a slight gain over last year.
That’s good news, City Development Corporation of El Campo Executive Director Carolyn Gibson said Monday.
“We continue to see increased sales tax revenue from online sales and sincerely believe our community is shopping locally, especially supporting our family-owned businesses,” she said, adding the effort drives business expansion as well as new business development.
The city’s economic strength said is vital.
“When developers see a community with those strong sales tax numbers, it shows them we are a great place to invest in,” Gibson said. “Please keep supporting our businesses. We aren’t out of the woods yet and every dollar that stays in our community has a multiplier of seven.”
This month the $443,445 sales tax rebate sent from State Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s Office is just 1.06 percent higher than the check received in September 2020 when shoppers were still flocking to the city’s big box stores.
“While the revenue we receive in September was only up 1 percent, we’re still pleased with the increase. This offsets other loss of revenue while increasing our reserves,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.
“Overall sales tax for the year ended much higher than budgeted, nearly $775,000 higher. This is a 14 percent increase from 2020,” she added.
Every qualifying purchase in the city of El Campo, online or in person, pays a 8.25 percent state sales tax. Of that, 1.5 percent is rebated to El Campo two months later – September’s payment, for example, reflects purchases made in July.
For the calendar year, El Campo has received slightly more than $4.1 million in sales tax rebates, up 15.2 percent from 2020.
Last year, El Campo sales tax rebates were up 6.94 percent from 2019. The last year that ended with a city sales tax loss was in 2016, when collections were down 3.41 percent.
The key to keeping sales tax rebates and the economy as a whole strong, Gibson said, is to think “Shop LOCAL!” every day.
“Every dollar helps!” she said.
Sales tax dollars are the city’s largest funding source, and, as they grow, they continue to help decrease property tax.
Better than anticipated sales tax dollars are channeled to one-time purchases like park equipment or vehicles.
Wharton County’s sales tax rebate leaped 29.87 percent in September, following a 26.05 percent gain in August.
The $342,778 this month helps bring the year-to-date sales tax returns up from about $2.4 million in 2020 to more than $3.1 million, a 30.92 percent gain.
The county finished 2020 up 3.73 percent. The year 2019 was stagnant, up just 0.61 percent.
The city of Wharton’s sales tax rebate soared 35.54 percent, from $161,303 to $218,632, in September. The city’s 2021 returns are up 16.18 percent, with almost $2 million rebated.
Wharton ended 2020 with sales tax rebates down 0.29 percent in comparison to 2019.
The $47,923 check rebated to East Bernard in September was up 4.41 percent from this month last year. So far this calendar year, the city has received $387,940 from the comptroller’s office, down 5.32 percent from $409,769.
By the end of last year, the small community’s return was up 7.17 percent. The city recorded a 13.55 percent jump in 2019.