Just Checking

El Campo Head Athletic Trainer Robert “Doc” Easter checks the temperature of incoming freshman Oliver Miles before the school’s summer workouts Tuesday morning. To limit the spread of COVID-19, athletes are checked daily for high temperatures. 

El Campo’s economy showed more resiliency than expected or hoped for when city officials received this month’s sales tax rebate from the Texas state comptroller’s office.

Purchases made in April boosted El Campo’s sales tax returns about $19,000 or 5.38 percent.

“The increase is a direct reflection of the benefit of shopping locally. The folks in El Campo who are unable or unwilling to leave town to shop has created great opportunity for local businesses,” City Development Corporation of El Campo Executive Director Carolyn Gibson said. “Our businesses have been very creative in finding ways to keep their businesses viable during this time of uncertainty and El Campo has embraced these new ‘alternate’ methods of shopping and dining.”

June’s state check puts El Campo down just 1.3 percent for the calendar year.

“We anticipated a sharp decrease and instead saw an increase. This was good news for the city and offers us some hope as we prepare for fiscal year 2021,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.

The May sales tax rebate was also up, 5.66 percent better than May 2019, reflecting purchases made in March.

Last month, El Campo City Council, anticipating losses to come, cut $295,770 from the current budget via delays on capital projects, lowering anticipated fuel and travel costs as well as pool revenue.

Local officials are uniting in urging the public to support local businesses as they reopen and continue support of those essential businesses that have remained in operation throughout.

Shopping local is vital, Gibson said, adding, “This, coupled with the Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, have given El Campo and Wharton County businesses the necessary tools to maintain their viability.” 

The city 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.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar distributed $690.4 million in local sales tax allocations for June, 11.7 percent less than in June 2019, the steepest year-over-year decline in allocations since September 2009.

Other Wharton County Reports

Wharton County’s sales tax rebate remained steady, showing a .54 percent gain in June, and is down just .98 percent for the calendar year.

“I was pleasantly shocked (by the sales tax return),” County Judge Phillip Spenrath said. “I anticipated a much harsher number. But that’s just April (June sales tax numbers are based on April purchases). We have to see to May and beyond. We have a fund balance to cover shortages now. The problem will be going into the budget for next 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 dropped 11.65 percent from June 2019. The city’s rebates are down 3.17 percent for the calendar year.

In 2018, the city’s rebates were up 6.38 percent. In 2017, Wharton dropped 4.8 percent.

East Bernard’s check fell 1.81 percent this month. So far this year, East Bernard’s sales tax rebates are up 12.01 percent for the calendar year. The city recorded a 13.55 percent jump in 2019. That city’s rebates were up 20.9 percent in 2018.

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