TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It’s been nearly two months since Governor Abbott lifted the statewide stay at home order. When it comes to sales and use tax revenue, cities across East Texas are just now beginning to see the shortfall after about a month of closed businesses and decreased economic activity.
“There’s essentially a two month lag that occurs on sales tax collection as far as receipts when they are provided to the city,” Tyler City Manager Ed Broussard said.
In Tyler, sales tax revenue is down about 20% from this time last year. Longview is down 23%, according to the Texas Comptroller.
“Especially with cities that have high interest in oil and gas activities, us, Longview, Midland, is that our percentages were, as far as of decrease from year to year, were much higher than cities that don’t have a lot of oil and gas activities,” Broussard said.
Despite the decrease in revenue, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran is proposing lowering property taxes in next year’s budget.
“There’s a lot of folks out there that are struggling economically as a result of COVID-19, and we understand that. We want to try to not just keep property taxes consistent, but we want to in fact drop property taxes as we roll into the next year,” Moran said.
This comes at a time when revenues are lower and budgets are tighter.
“Our other primary streams of revenue are also dropping. Our sales tax revenue which accounts for about 22 or 23% of our revenue and our fines and fees which, traditionally, accounts for between 13 and 15% of our revenue, all of that is dropping without us doing anything, just naturally because of the COVID-19 situation,” Moran said.
Judge Moran says the county’s reserve fund is making it possible to still lower property taxes, while still recovering from the revenue losses caused by the stay-at-home order.