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Sales tax revenue on the rise in Victoria

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 22, 2011 at 5:22 a.m.


Sales tax returns: a closer look

City of Victoria:

Budgeted for October: $1,241,000

Actual October receipts: $1,544,000

2010 October receipts: $1,241,000

Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.:

Budgeted for October: $640,000

Actual October receipts: $771,000

October 2010 receipts: $621,000

Source: City of Victoria finance department data

Consumer confidence is increasing local spending as well as the city of Victoria's sales tax collection, recent data shows.

The city accumulated $1.5 million in October sales tax receipts, according to the data from the city's finance department. That's a 24.42-percent increase from the $1.2 million the city collected in October 2010.

Victoria County's numbers also jumped 20.47 percent - $771,000 in October compared to $621,000 at the same time last year.

The simple explanation for the rise is that entities have invested in Victoria, said Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong.

The Victoria school district's $159 million bond package, Port of Victoria expansion, University of Houston-Victoria expansion and investment in the city's downtown area all play their role, he said.

From there, that investment encourages confidence for other endeavors, Armstrong said, noting new restaurants, retailers and apartment complexes that either recently opened or will soon call Victoria home.

"It all equates to jobs and opportunities for young people," he said. "I feel this decade will be the best Victoria has ever had. This is the start of a wonderful decade."

The sales tax jump is a reflection of consumer confidence, Victoria City Councilman Paul Polasek said, explaining it appears consumers are comfortable with Victoria's current economy.

Even so, he said, people often qualify statements with the phrase "in this economy" when approaching the City Council and other groups, he said.

"I am puzzled as to what they are referring to," Polasek said. "Because our local economy is doing so well."

Sales tax numbers aren't the only place the city saw improvement.

The Victoria metropolitan statistical area, which includes Victoria, Calhoun and Goliad counties, dropped its unemployment rate from 7.3 percent to 6.8 percent year-over-year, while Victoria's commercial building permits more than doubled in that same timeframe.

Victoria's recent growth is good for those selling merchandise to area residents and visitors, and recent oil activity contributes to the boon, said Lewis Neitsch, president of the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.

Still, he said, future growth is also important,

The city's half-cent sales tax already purchased a 106-acre business park adjacent to the business center that Caterpillar will soon call home. The $1.55 million deal closed in late December.

As Caterpillar slowly ramps up, Neitsch said the new park will be available for suppliers and the like who might come to town. Several companies have already looked at the park, he said, although it does not appear anyone is serious about it just yet.

"We're just, I guess you'd say, poised and ready," Neitsch said, noting money is set aside in case new infrastructure or streets become necessary. "Just trying to be prepared."

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