Edinburg’s retail economy for the month of April 2015 was 4.45 percent better than the same month last year, generating $1,582,767.61 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,515,235.89 in April 2014, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.
The EEDC, led by Executive Director Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.
This latest showing is the second-best among all of the Valley’s major cities for April 2015, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, which on Wednesday, June 10, released statewide figures, which represents the most up-to-date figures information for that state agency.
Edinburg’s rate of improvement also is better than the average of all city economies in the state, which combined showed an increase of 1.2 percent when comparing April 2015 with the same month last year, the state comptroller’s office also reported.
Year-to-date, the Edinburg economy is 6.72 percent ahead of 2014, having produced $10,186,165.26 from January through April 2015 in local sales taxes, compared with $9,544,069.69 during the same period last year.
Mayor Richard García (no relation to Gus García, Jr.), who is President of the EEDC Board of Directors, explained that the amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends .
“The EEDC is pleased to report that additional hotels, restaurants and quality-of-life projects are currently in negotiations, and we will have many more announcements to come later this year,” the mayor said during his State of the City Address on Wednesday, May 27. “All these projects will add to the city’s sales tax collection, allowing us to do more for our community, because every penny we get goes right back into ongoing and needed projects through the city.”
The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the EEDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city.
The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825).
The sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in April by businesses that report tax monthly, sent to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in May, and returned as sales tax rebates to the respective local government entities in June.
DOWNTOWN RETAIL ECONOMY PART OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
Throughout Edinburg, the Edinburg City Council and EEDC Board of Directors continue putting in play sweeping plans to keep the local retail economy in an upward swing, including a major project involving mass transit.
The city’s downtown, anchored by the Hidalgo County Courthouse, is part of a long-range strategy to link its economic development to the University of Texas-Pan American (to be renamed UT-Rio Grande Valley this fall).
Among the actions being taken by the city council and the EEDC is to bring tourism and more commerce to that segment of the community, such as a plan to build a multi-million dollar complex that will feature extensive bus services.
That vision “will bring us a multi-use transit facility that will be the first-of-its-kind in Edinburg,” Mayor García reported. “The architectural design has been approved, so we anticipate it will move rapidly.”
Working with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, the Edinburg City Council and the EEDC secured a $2.7 million federal grant to build that 35,000 square-foot complex, which will be located between West University Drive and 6th Street, which will link Edinburg City Hall, UT-Rio Grande Valley, and the Hidalgo County Courthouse.
“Once complete, the facility will serve as home to Valley Metro, which is the city’s transit provider, and combine public and private transit service with office space, restaurants, and a potential rail line, as well as parking levels, bringing traffic and life closer to our town square after 5 p.m.,” the mayor said.
As part of the city’s required local match for the federal grant, the EEDC donated a 1.6 acre tract of land to serve as the site for the transit facility.
Valley Metro, a service of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, provides public transportation in urbanized and non-urbanized areas through its transit department throughout deep South Texas, including Edinburg,
The multi-use transit facility is part of the dramatic transformation of McIntyre Street, known as “Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural”, which designates the renovated pedestrian-oriented pathway that links the cultural, retail, educational and governmental landmarks in and near the city’s downtown square.
“Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural” is highlighted by the Hidalgo County Courthouse, Edinburg City Hall, and UT-RGV, whose campus is undergoing a significant expansion, with almost $210 million in new construction planned, currently underway, or recently opened.
The Edinburg campus is being upgraded with a $70 million science building annex, a $54 million medical education facility, a $42.7 million performing arts complex,an $11.9 million student academic center, and at the end of May, the Texas Legislature authorized $30.6 million to be used for the construction of an interdisciplinary engineering and academic studies building.
“Las Ramblas: Paseo Cultural is now open and thousands of people have been enjoying it while attending one of the many art and cultural events and festivals that have been held there, such as Jardín de Arte, Festiva, Trio Tardeada, Tree Lighting, Cinco de Mayo, to name a few,” the mayor added.
EEDC Executive Director Gus García, Jr. said the transit facility “sets the future in motion by allowing people to use mass transportation so they can save those dollars, get a good paying job, education, and move up. People can have transportation to get here, and then just walk to City Hall. We are going to have stores and shops to promote walkability.”
HOW OTHER VALLEY CITIES, COUNTIES PERFORMED IN APRIL 2015
Based on the amount of sales taxes generated, according to the state comptroller’s office, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures for April 2015:
McAllen: $4,779,422.77, down 5.56 percent from April 2014 ($5,060,901.86);
Brownsville: $2,854,152.11, down 3.17 percent from April 2014 ($2,947,823.07);
Harlingen: $1,761,804.49, up 3.32 percent from April 2014 ($1,705,190.61);
Edinburg: $1,582,767.61, up 4.45 percent from April 2014 ($1,515,235.89);
Pharr: $1,424,396.56, up 14.88 percent from April 2014 ($1,239,818.57);
Mission: $1,176,249.19, down 9.15 percent from April 2014 ($1,294,797.04); and
Weslaco: $924,081.21, down 3.91 percent from April 2014 ($961,718.22).
All cities in Hidalgo County reported a total of $11,880,630.13 in local sales taxes in April 2015, compared with $12,112,848.14 in April 2014, an decrease of 1.91 percent. Year-to-date (January through April), all cities in Hidalgo County have registered $78,267,122.71 in local sales taxes, compared with $75,944,099.20 for the same four months in 2014, an improvement of 3.05 percent.
Hidalgo County government does not collect a local sales tax.
All cities in Cameron County generated $5,606,854.54 in local sales taxes in April 2015, compared with $5,619,943.39 in April 2014, a decrease of 0.23 percent. Year-to-date (January through April), all cities in Cameron County have registered $35,421,142.39 in local sales taxes, compared with $34,428,053.79 for the same third-of-the-year in 2014, an improvement of 2.88 percent.
Cameron County government does not collect a local sales tax.
All cities in Starr County produced $432,288.91 in local sales taxes in April 2015, compared with $2,104,582.51 during the same month in 2014, a decrease of 79.45 percent. Year-to-date (January through April), all cities in Starr County have registered $2,778,851.47 in local sales taxes, compared with $4,372,664.00 for the same period in 2014, a decrease of 36.44 percent.
Starr County government does not collect a local sales tax
All cities in Willacy County produced $131,918.43 in local sales taxes in April 2015, compared with $120,694.24 during April 2014, an improvement of 9.29 percent. Year-to-date (January through April), all cities in Willacy County have registered $779,809.36 in local sales taxes, compared with $814,999.23 for the same four month period in 2014, a decrease of 4.31 percent.
Willacy County government does not collect a local sales tax.
At the statewide level, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said that state sales tax revenue in April was $2.6 billion, up 5.2 percent compared to April 2014.
That 5.2 percent figure is broken down into the following categories: cities ($409.5 million for April 2015, up 1.2 percent compared to April 2o14); counties ($39.3 million for April 2015, down 3.4 percent compared to April 2014); transit systems ($142.4 million for April 2015, up 1.6 percent compared to April 2014); and special purpose taxing districts ($692.2 million, up 1.2 percent compared to April 2014).
“This marks the 62nd consecutive month of growth in sales tax collections,” Hegar said. “Sales tax revenue growth was relatively strong, spurred by consumer spending at retail stores and restaurants. Remittances from the construction, wholesale trade and services sectors were also up significantly. Collections from the oil and gas mining sector declined, as was expected, due to the slowdown in drilling.”
For details of the April 2015 local sales tax figures for all cities, counties, transit systems, and special purpose taxing districts, locate the Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports at the comptroller’s website: http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/allocsum/compsum.html
By DAVID A. DÍAZ.