Sales tax rebates slide

Rockdale, Milam County down more than 20% for July; year-to-date rebates up 12.5% for city

The exit of about 2,000 temporary workers, compounded by the loss of permanent jobs and a sluggish national economy, has showed up on local government's bottom line.

July's sales tax rates were down 23 percent for Rockdale and 20 percent for Milam County, compared to last July when the peak temporary workforce helping construct Luminant's Sandow 5 power plant were in town.

Workers jammed local trailer parks and spent much of their paychecks in local restaurants and stores, and gave the local economy a jolt.

But with those workers gone, sales tax rebates from the State comptroller's office fell back to earth. Of the 17 area taxing entities measured (see chart at right), 14 were down for the month.

Rockdale's rebate was just over $54,000 in July, compared to over $70,000 last July. For the year, rebates are up 2.8 percent.

Rockdale Hospital District was down by half as it hit its second month of rebates without sales tax monies generated in the newly formed Municipal Development District. The comptroller's office ruled earlier this year that the district should not have collected sales tax in annexed areas.

Nine of the 17 area taxing authorities are down for the year.

Statewide collections down

That mirrors the statewide economy as the comptroller's office collected 11 percent less in sales taxes in June compared to a year ago. Allocations, issued the following month, were down 8.8 percent.

"Oil and gas, construction and retail trade sectors showed continued weakness, resulting in a sharp decrease in sales tax collections in June," State Comptroller Susan Combs said. "Contributing to the decrease was not only the weakness in these three sectors, but also the strong level of collections received from them in June 2008."

State sales tax collections in June and local sales tax allocations in July represent sales that occurred in May.

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