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Local sales tax numbers rise despite COVID

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood Bulletin

In Brown County’s four municipalities, a big dip in sales tax revenue from the COVID shutdown — which local officials had expected with their June allotments from the state — did not happen.

June allotments are a reflection of April sales.

According to state comptroller’s office, Brownwood saw an 8.6 percent increase over June 2019. In Early, the increase over June 2019 was nearly 11 percent. Bangs and Blanket saw increases of 30.7 percent and 46 percent.

“That’s good news,” Brownwood Finance Director Walter Middleton said of Brownwood’s numbers.

Brownwood received a June allotment of $476,500, compared with last April’s $441,714.

Early received a June allotment of $93,985, compared with last April’s $84,747.

“In my career here at the city, this is month 260 analyzing city sales tax numbers,” Middleton said via email. “I’ve had lots of surprises over 21 years, but none like this one.

“We’ve been anticipating a significant hit from COVID-19 restrictions. We anticipated that to take place in June which represents April retail activity. Instead, we are seeing an increase in sales tax revenue.

“ … This is indicative of local retail activity in April when we were fully locked down. I am at a loss to explain it.”

Brownwood economic developer Ray Tipton has talked to several businesses, and some indicated they didn’t see a sharp drop-off in April with activity returning to full-normal in May, Middleton said.

“If this is the case across our community, and these numbers seem to indicate that it might be, then we are showing a resilience in our local economy that was unexpected but very welcome and encouraging.”

Early economic director Larry McConn said via email,”

“Early Sales tax were up 10.9 percent for the city and 12.45 percent for the (Early Municipal Development District) for April sales. Naturally, with all the closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased with this analysis. This is a promising litmus test for the recovery of the economy in Brown County.

With all jurisdictions showing an optimistic increase, we are encouraged and confident things will be back to normal soon. It further affirms what we have always known, that our residents are willing to help out their neighbors in a time of need. In this case they have spent their money in businesses and restaurants when it was needed the most.”

Texas as a whole showed a decrease.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $690.4 million in local sales tax allocations for June, 11.7 percent less than in June 2019. These allocations are based on sales made in April by businesses that report tax monthly.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread social distancing requirements were in place across much of the state in April, leading to the steepest year-over-year decline in allocations since September 2009, a press release from Hegar’s office stated.