By SHANNON CRABTREE
El Campo’s citizens gave the economy a running start into the fall, one shopping bag at a time.
The good economic news comes via sales tax rebates from the state comptroller’s office. This month Comptroller Glenn Hegar returned $437,136 to municipal coffers, up 6.6 percent from October 2020. The rebate is the city’s 1.5 percent “cut” from sales tax shoppers paid for August purchases.
“Increased sales tax proceeds shows support for our local businesses continues,” City Development Corporation of El Campo Executive Director Carolyn Gibson said Thursday, adding the dedication helps entice more business expansions as well as new store openings.
More retail also translates into more industrial offerings and a stabilized tax base.
“A healthy business climate is critical for a community to be considered by a company making sight selection decisions. That support of local businesses, the obvious support of our non-profit and community organizations, along with quality of life and education make us an enviable community,” Gibson said.
“We are a great place to locate a new business, a great place to grow a business, and a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” she added.
For the calendar year, El Campo has received slightly more than $4.5 million in sales tax rebates, up 14.31 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.
Sales tax is the largest single revenue funding the city of El Campo. Part of the General Fund budget, sales tax helps pay for everything from police officers to printing paper.
The latest rebate, City Manager Courtney Sladek said, is “Good news as we start the fiscal year (in October) with a little over a 6 percent increase from last year. We’re optimistic that this trend will continue, not only supporting out budget, but providing excess revenue for potential revenue shortfalls or unplanned one-time purchases.”
Sustained sales tax growth helps offset property tax levies.
A quarter cent of the city’s rebate is dedicated to economic development, funding the CDC.
Wharton County’s sales tax rebate showed an 8.89 percent gain in October, following 29.87 and 26.05 percent gains in September and August.
The $335,108 check this month helps bring the year-to-date sales tax returns up from about $2.7 million in 2020 to almost $3.5 million, a 28.42 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 was up 6.25 percent, from $196,166 to $208,436, in October. The city’s 2021 returns are up 15.16 percent, with almost $2.2 million rebated.
Wharton ended 2020 with sales tax rebates down 0.29 percent in comparison to 2019.
The City of East Bernard received a $48,322 check from the comptroller’s office in October, a 20.33 percent leap from last year.
So far this calendar year, the city has received $436,262 in rebates, down 3.03 percent from $449,925 by October 2020.
East Bernard ended 2020 with sales tax rebates up 7.17 percent. The city recorded a 13.55 percent jump in 2019.
The comptroller’s office reported last week that it collected $3.15 billion statewide in sales tax revenue based on August purchases, up 22.3 percent from the same time period last year.
A portion of this funding will be rebated to cities, counties and other sales tax levying taxing districts next month.
“Tax receipts from all major economic sectors were up by double-digit percentages from a year ago, indicating vigorous spending by both businesses and consumers,” Hegar said.
The growth was noted, “despite continuing shortages of building materials, chemicals, semiconductors and other critical inputs due to weather and pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions,” he added.
Motor vehicle sales and rental taxes rose 21 percent from September 2020 and alcoholic beverage taxes were up 56 percent, predominately from bars and restaurants rather than package stores.
“Within the retail trade sector, rapid growth continued in receipts from big-box retailers, which grew strongly during last year’s shut-down period, while receipts from mall-based department stores grew moderately. Among more specialized retailers, the fastest growth in receipts was from clothing stores and electronics and appliance stores,” Hegar said.
Online shopping continued to show gains.