EARLY — Early Mayor Robert Mangrum pointed to record sales tax collection and a second consecutive year of lower property taxes as signs of progress during Friday’s state of the city address.
Mangrum addressed the crowd as part of the first event in the new $1.3 million Early Visitors and Events Center, highlighting how clever planning and diligent effort can make an immediate impact in the community.
“This is the second year in a row to lower our property tax. Sales tax collections have also increased by 46 percent over the last five years,” said Mangrum, who enters his seventh year as mayor. “Hotel tax collections have increased 57 percent since 2017. Yes, all of those new hotels have made a difference. Since we created an economic development district, we’ve given out 18 economic development grants or loans and all of those have brought new or expanded business to Early.”
Impact of sales tax, lowered property taxes
Last fall, the Early City Council approved a 1-cent reduction in property taxes, which city administrator Tony Aaron proposed making as a result of increased sales taxes with Hobby Lobby, Burger Kings and a slew of other business expansions and relocations. Mangrum said Early has second lowest property taxes in Brown County – trailing Blanket. Although not guaranteeing first place, Mangrum said he expects to see another property tax decrease when the council convenes to create its 2019-2020 budget.
“That’s a bragging point – the second lowest property tax. We do this with continued growth and with continued growth we will end up lowering the tax rate again next year or at least I think that’s what the council will do,” Mangrum said. “… The last calendar year we have $1.4 million in sales tax, which is an increase of 7 percent from 2017 and a 46 percent increase since 2013. Think about hat. In 6 years we had that big of an increase.”
Mangrum highlighted a few businesses looking to open in the near future with construction projects ongoing for Extreme Jump inside the Heartland Mall and the Dollar General Store currently under construction along Early Boulevard. Extreme Jump is currently under construction and looking to open in the early summer. The city council recently approved working with the Dollar General for construction of a 30-car parking lot, but there is no indication when the store will open.
Another ongoing development has been the expansion of Brownwood-based Harris Broadband to Early. Mangrum said Harris’ expansion will be far more beneficial than some may think with the business offering Early residents access to Harris’ fiber optic cable network for high-speed internet.
“That’s important for diversity. We’re getting some businesses that we didn’t have over here on our side of the world, which means more sales tax money coming, and staying over here, which means more we can do with,” Mangrum said. “Of course, Harris Broadband, we worked with them to get them over here because our businesses would have faster internet.”