By Will Johnson                                                                                                                                                                              Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Area cities and counties will soon receive their February sales tax revenue disbursements from the state. In a press release dated Feb. 7, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar stated he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $911.9 million in local sales tax allocations for February, 6.2 percent more than in February 2017.

As to what this means to area residents, Houston County Auditor Melissa Mosley previously provided an explanation of how the sales tax allocations affect property taxation in the county.

“Sales tax collections received by the County from the Comptroller are directly related to the ad valorem property tax reduction. When calculating the effective tax rate, the actual taxes collected – not budgeted – are reduced from the value, thereby reducing the tax rate. The county sales and use tax of 1/2 cent was put in place to lower the property tax. Whatever money we receive from sales tax is directly related to the amount of property tax rate reduction,” the auditor clarified.

“When anticipating revenues, the entire budget process is an educated guess. Houston County officials have historically been very conservative and realistic which has helped the county hold a recommended fund balance level, even while other entities were struggling and making cuts,” Mosley asserted.

Texas cities will receive $592.9 million, up 5.1 percent when compared to February 2017. Texas counties can anticipate sales tax allocations of $53.7 million, up 12.4 percent compared to last year’s numbers.

In addition, Hegar will send $53.7 million to 248 special purpose taxing districts, up 12.4 percent compared to last year. The ten transit system authorities in Texas will receive $203.5 million in sales tax allocations, up five percent compared to a year ago.

The sales tax allocations referenced above represent “…sales made in December by businesses that report tax monthly; October, November and December sales by quarterly filers; and 2017 sales by businesses that report tax annually.”

At the local level, Houston County showed a significant decrease in allocations for the month of January and the downward movement continued in February. The county has a tax rate of 0.50 percent and will receive $86,750.51 – down from $113,090.92 received for the same tax period last year, indicative of a 23.29 percent downward move. So far this year, Houston County has received $171,556 compared to last year’s total of $211,888.52 for a decrease of 19.03 percent.

The incorporated cities of Houston County showed negative results with all five showing a decrease in the allocation of sales tax payments. The City of Crockett, which has a 1.5 percent tax rate, will receive $160,145.30 in sales tax allocations. This is down from $194,813.94 received for the same tax period last year and reflects a 17.79 percent decrease. Yearly total payments to date show Crockett has garnered $303,271.68 compared to last year’s total of $337,154.70 for a 10.04 percent decrease.

The City of Grapeland, which also has a 1.5 percent tax rate, will realize $21,695.51 in sales tax allocation payments. This is down from the $24,680.40 received for the same tax period last year and reflects a decline of 12.09 percent. Year to date figures, however, are indicative of a slight incline, going from $37,804.49 received last year at this time to $43,587.71 amassed so far this year, for a 15.29 percent increase.

The City of Kennard, which has a 1.0 percent tax rate, will acquire $2,167.40 in disbursements. This is down from the $2,474.40 taken in during the same tax period last year, indicating a 12.4 percent decrease. Year to date figures, however, are showing an upward trend from $4,427.16 collected last year at this time to $4,575.10 received so far this year. This signifies a 3.34 percent increase in sales tax payments.

The City of Latexo, which also has a 1.0 percent tax rate, will procure $1,670.97 in sales tax allocations. This represents a decrease from the $2,039.16 received for the same tax period last year and indicates an 18.05 percent decline. Year-to-date figures, however, are showing an increase from $3,319.91 (2017) to $3,807.48 (2018), which marks a 14.68 percent increase in allocations.

The City of Lovelady, which has a 1.25 percent tax rate, will garner $5,325.23 in sales tax allocations. This is less than the $6,603.38 accrued for the same tax period last year and reflects a decrease of 19.35 percent. Year-to-date figures are also showing a decrease going from $11,516.90 to $9,545.18.  This represents a regression of 17.12 percent.

Anderson County, which has a 0.50 percent tax rate, will receive $272,473.10 in sales tax payments. This is an increase from $243,877.68 received for the same reporting period last year and indicates an incline of 11.72 percent. Year to date numbers are also showing an upward trend going from $433,961.59 received last year at this time to $500,490.82 received so far this year. The increased allocation represents an expansion of 15.33 percent.

The City of Elkhart, which has a 1.25 percent tax rate, will receive $13,211.67 in sales tax allocations. This is down from the $15,972.61 received for the same tax period last year and represents a decrease of 17.28 percent. Year to date figures are also showing a decrease from $32,653.42 (2017) to $24,693.16 (2018), reflective of a 24.37 percent fall in tax allocation payments.

The City of Palestine, which has a 1.50 percent tax rate, will receive $ 613,056.99 in sales tax allocations. This is up from the $605,989.94 received for the same tax period last year and reflects an incline of 1.16 percent. Year-to-date figures are also showing an increase from a total of $1,041,631.48 received last year at this time to $1,079,012.31 received so far this year, representative of a 3.58 percent uptick.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.