The city of Waco received a $3.2 million sales tax rebate this week, a fractional increase over the check it received in October of last year, according to a report by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
So far this calendar year, Waco has received rebates totaling $31.7 million, 2.7 percent more than it received in the first 10 months of 2016.
Rebates received in October reflect sales in August reported to the Comptroller’s Office in September. Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent rebates totaling $660 million to cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts this month, a 1.6 percent increase over last year.
Sales taxes generate 56 percent of the revenue the state needs for its general fund, Hegar recently told a group of business leaders in Waco.
Other projected sources of funding for the biennium include fees, investments and non-tax revenues, 11.5 percent; motor vehicle sales and rental taxes, 9.1 percent; oil production and regulation taxes, 5.2 percent; franchise tax, 5.1 percent; natural gas production tax, 2.9 percent; motor fuel taxes, 1.7 percent; and all other state taxes, 9.1 percent.
For the biennium that continues through 2017, the state has $113 billion available for general purpose spending, according to a fact sheet from the Texas Comptroller’s Office. The biennium started with a balance of $7.5 billion, and Hegar projected general revenue collections of $110.4 billion, with $2.5 billion reserved for transfers to the Economic Stabilization Fund and for transfers to the State Highway Fund.
Hegar, who visited Waco as part of a multi-city tour to discuss the impact of manufacturing on the state and local economies, said state lawmakers may want to consider expanding the list of items subject to sales tax if they want to provide property tax relief to homeowners, existing businesses and industrial prospects considering Texas for expansion.
Most of the communities in Greater Waco enjoyed increases in sales tax rebates for October. Hewitt continues to reap the benefits of a new Walmart at Interstate 35 and Sun Valley Boulevard, though sales taxes have not increased as much as Hewitt officials anticipated.
Hewitt’s October rebate totaled $181,953, a 16.2 percent increase over the same month last year. So far this calendar year, rebates have totaled $1.77 million, a 19 percent increase from the same period last year.
The city of Woodway’s October rebate of $196,862 reflected a fractional increase from the same month last year. But for the year-to-date, Woodway’s rebate total of $1.98 million falls below the $2 million from last year.
The cities of Robinson, West, Bellmead, Beverly Hills and Lacy Lakeview saw rebate increases, while Lorena and McGregor experienced declines.
Though West’s $61,061 check for October was 22.7 percent larger than last year’s, the town is 12.6 percent behind its 2016 pace for the year, with rebates totaling $454,677 this year, compared to $520,271 last year.
Though Waco continued its streak of year-over-year increases in sales tax rebates, local spending has become sluggish, according to Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based economist who prepares a report on local trends for the First National Bank of Central Texas and the Tribune-Herald.
In his latest report, Ingham said retail spending in Greater Waco totaled $314.9 million in August, a 0.5 percent drop from August 2016. Spending for the year through August totaled $2.3 billion, a modest 0.4 percent increase from last year.