Area sales tax collections reflect ailing U.S. economy

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Oct. 2, 2007 - The national economy has been sending up a mild stench in recent months, and that fact is being reflected in area retail sales indicators.

Nationwide, new home sales fell to the a seven-year low in August, while sales of existing homes dropped for the sixth straight month. Orders for big-ticket durable goods plunged worse than expected. And former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in September the odds of a recession have grown since earlier this year, even though "the economy is not doing badly at this stage."

With so many factors putting a burden on the economy, it should come as no surprise that the sales tax collections returned to area counties in September were a mixed bag, at best, with half reporting declines and three of the remaining four recording low to moderate increases.

Hopkins County was one of those who came out ahead, although just barely, in September. Last month’s sales tax collections returned to municipalities in the county were up 0.81 percent from September of 2006 at $332,244 and some change.

The total in the city of Sulphur Springs remained virtually flat at $320,036.75, a decline of 0.02 percent from one year ago.

Cumby reported a 41.46 percent increase, with sales tax rebates reaching $10,812.56. Through the first nine months of this year, Cumby's sales tax collections have increased 7.52 percent to $97,301 compared to a year ago.

Como’s rebate declined 22.36 percent to $1,395.14. For the year to date, the town's collections stand at $12,682, down 18.99 percent.

The Hopkins County treasury received $123,241 for its one-half cent sales tax, up 1.52 percent from a year ago. For the year, the county's rebates are up 3.18 percent to $1.196 million.

September's sales tax rebates included taxes on sales by retailers in July reported to the state comptroller's office in August.

Half of the area counties reported some form of sales tax increase last month, while the other four saw rebates decline.

In addition to Hopkins County, cities in Hunt County (1.44 percent) and Lamar County (2.37) recorded upticks.

Hunt County saw an overall increase despite a poor showing in Greenville, where the monthly sales tax rebate was down 8.97 percent from one year ago. The city still had one of the biggest sales tax rebate totals in the area at just under $427,000, however.

Wood County's municipalities combined for the biggest overall increase at 7.85 percent, buoyed by a 14.78 percent increase in Mineola ($123,006).

Through the first nine months of the year, Lamar County's sales tax rebates are up 2.96 percent compared to one year ago, Hunt County's rebates are up 5.6 percent, Titus County is up 5.21 percent and Wood County up 8.76 percent.

In Titus County, the local rebates were down 1.78 percent in September, fueled by a 2.04 percent drop in Mout Pleasant, where the collections totaled $356,351.

Franklin County also saw a decline, with Mount Vernon's collections dropping 1.09 percent, as did Rains County, which recorded a 3.82 percent drop. Delta County sustained the largest drop in sales tax rebates at 14.51 percent.

Franklin, Rains and Delta counties also share one other distinction. They are the only three counties in the area whose year-to-date sales tax collections are lower than at the same time one year ago. Rains County is 1.49 percent of last year's pace, while Franklin is down 7.9 percent and Delta down 9.87 percent.

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