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Gregg County, Longview sales tax revenues rise

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
Feb. 8, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Sales taxes collected in Longview and Gregg County were up in December from the same month a year ago, even as other East Texas communities saw declines.

Across Gregg County, sales increased about 4 percent, the state reported Wednesday. In Longview, the increase was a bit more than 1 percent.

While Gregg County and much of East Texas did not get hit as hard by the recession as many other areas of the nation, said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, the region is benefiting from the national economic recovery.

"People are starting to spend more, they're feeling better as things improve," he said. "As we get new restaurants, new stores and new oil field services companies in the area, we all benefit."

The increased sales tax revenues are closely tied to the area's comparatively low unemployment rate and strong real estate market, Stoudt said.

"They all fit together to help improve the quality of life we have here," he said.

Longview's sales tax revenues were up about $35,000 from a year ago, while Gregg County's revenues jumped about $63,000, according to data released Wednesday by the Texas Comptroller's Office. Other East Texas cities were not as fortunate.

Tyler's monthly revenues were down about 1 percent; Kilgore was down 2.5 percent; White Oak was down 23 percent; Marshall was down 4 percent; Carthage was down 2.8 percent; Gilmer was down 7 percent; and Henderson posted a 0.25 percent increase.

Chuck Ewings, assistant Longview city manager, said sales tax data released in February often serves as a good indicator of what to expect in coming months.

"February is an important month for determining how things are going with regard to sales tax revenue," he said. "If the current trend continues, we should be on target to meet our budget forecast for sales tax revenue for this fiscal year."

On a fiscal year basis, city sales tax revenues are up 2.4 percent.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said sales tax revenues statewide were up 9.5 percent compared with a year ago.

"Sales tax revenue continues to grow in almost all major economic categories, and revenue has now increased for 22 consecutive months," she said. "The recent monthly increase was led by the oil and natural gas-related sectors. Restaurants and services sectors also showed significant gains."

The state will distribute about $709 million to local governments.



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