Sales tax revenues boost region
Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Oct. 13, 2017 at 4 a.m.
Updated Oct. 13, 2017 at 6:48 a.m.
Positive sales tax revenues brought good news to area cities this week.
Longview and several other Gregg County cities posted significant gains in the October allocations report sent from the state comptroller's office.
"The rising tide lifts all ships is kind of the thought," Longview city spokesman Shawn Hara said Thursday. "None of us are an island. We're a region, so it's helpful to see everyone increasing."
White Oak collections also increased, but its official report shows those collections in the red, which could result in small spending changes for city staff, City Secretary Sherry Roberts said.
Collections increased 7.69 percent in Longview compared with October 2016, increased almost 37 percent in Kilgore and more than doubled in Hallsville.
"Sales tax is good," Hara said. "I say that facetiously. Honestly, it's just the first month of this fiscal year, but it's good to start with a positive month like that."
Statewide, sales tax allocations increased 3.6 percent for all reporting taxing jurisdictions, including 3 percent among cities, according to State Comptroller Glenn Hegar. October allocations are from August sales in the cities, counties or other taxing districts.
"We talk every month that you can't look at one month in isolation and assume everything is based on this, because there are so much fluctuations from month to month for a variety of different factors, and we can't tell," Hara continued, "but the one thing that is good with this is that we are actually up with current collections."
Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said Thursday that revenue is "continuing in the positive trend."
Because the city's October 2016 allocation already was about 45 percent below the previous year, this month's check to Kilgore means the city is "about halfway there" to revenues it saw regularly before an energy industry downturn in 2015.
"When we look at the detail, though, we see that it's only a handful of businesses that are contributing to the recovery," Selleck said, "which means we still have a ways to go."
Collections increased 117 percent in Hallsville compared with October 2016 as the city continues to ride a tide of new businesses.
White Oak was among a few East Texas cities to report a decrease in collections, but Roberts, the city secretary, blames an audit correction as the only reason her city didn't post a gain.
White Oak's collections totaled $76,866 this month, but the comptroller's office is keeping $14,296 for an audit collection, Roberts said.
"If you do not consider that," Roberts said, "we are up almost 30 percent."
Audit collections occur for a variety of reasons, because the comptroller's office issues allocation reports within two months of collections. Sometimes, state clerks find errors in later months when examining invoices or if companies prepay their sales and use tax for a prepayment discount, Roberts said.
Some companies pay the taxes in error and ask for refunds, which the comptroller's office usually subtracts from current allocations because the city already has received the funds.
Retailers that report or pay sales taxes "on time" to the comptroller can keep 0.5 percent of the taxes they collect, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The comptroller estimates that prepayment discounts cost the state $186.6 million in 2010-11 alone.
"When we receive large negative audit collections, it can lead to a revenue shortage resulting in budget tweaks and a reduction of expenditures by staff," Roberts said.
October sales tax allocations
|City||Oct. 2017||Oct. 2016||Change|
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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