Like most municipal budget officers, Waco’s Laura Mendoza circles February on her calendar and eagerly awaits a sales tax rebate from the State Comptroller’s Office that reflects holiday sales two months earlier.
The notification she got Wednesday left her appreciative but hardly overwhelmed. The almost $4.15 million rebate is 0.06 percent more than the check Waco received in February last year, both reflecting spending in December.
The increase is little more than rounding, but Mendoza said she will take it.
“We’ve seen significant improvement in total spending the past two years, so that’s not surprising or disappointing,” she said about the marginal gain.
For the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, the city is running $1.4 million ahead of budget projections for sales tax revenue.
“But we budget very conservatively,” Mendoza said.
December was the last in Waco for Sears, which has announced the store in Richland Mall will close as the iconic retailer continues to maneuver through bankruptcy. It serves as an anchor for the enclosed shopping complex at Waco Drive and State Highway 6, which opened in 1980.
At 150,000 square feet, the Sears space is the mall’s largest. It now is owned by the corporate parent of the Dillard’s department store chain, which has two locations in Richland Mall. Tennessee-based CBL Properties, the mall’s owner, has previously told the Tribune-Herald it will follow the lead of ownership in pursuing a user or users for the Sears space.
Meanwhile, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Richland Mall’s newest anchor, celebrated its first holiday shopping season in the Waco market.
State Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent February rebates totaling $954 million to cities, counties and special taxing districts, including $617 million to cities statewide, a 4.1 percent increase from February last year.
Locally, Woodway, Robinson, West, Hewitt and Bellmead all enjoyed increases, with West experiencing a 16.7 percent jump, Hegar reported.
So far this calendar year, January and February, Waco has received rebates totaling almost $7.2 million, with the money going into the city’s general fund.