MCALLEN, RGV – Matt Ruszczak, executive director of Rio South Texas Economic Council, fears he is beginning to sound like a broken record because the sales tax revenue reports he has given for the past few months all sound the same.
The good thing, though, is that the message he is delivering is always positive – the Rio Grande Valley is outperforming the state of Texas as a whole when it comes to economic activity.
“I am in danger of sounding like a broken record, which is a good problem to have because the report is once again positive. We are once again beating the performance of the state in our region,” Ruszczak told the Rio Grande Guardian.
Ruszczak gets his numbers from the Texas Comptroller’s Office. All sales tax revenues must be reported to Comptroller Glenn Hegar in Austin and his office in turn distributes some of the collections back to municipalities.
For the October report, which reflected sales tax activity in August, 2019, the State of Texas was up 3.89 percent over the same month in 2018. Ruszczak described this as “steady strong growth.”
However, this figure was lower than that achieved by three of the four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.
Cameron County was up 8.40 percent. Hidalgo County was up 5.84 percent. And Starr County was up 8.54 percent.
Unfortunately, Willacy County’s sales tax revenues in August 2019 were 27.59 percent down on the same month last year. However, Ruszczak points out that there can be wild fluctuations in smaller communities.
“Our region as a whole is 6.36 percent, almost double the growth rate of the state number,” Ruszczak said, proudly.
(Editor’s Note: The above podcast has more information about the sales tax revenues for the Rio Grande Valley, including a comparison with the counties of Webb and Nueces.)
Looking at individual communities in Cameron County in August 2019, Ruszczak reported a 10.64 percentage increase in Brownsville, as compared to the same month last year. Harlingen was up 3.8 percent; Port Isabel up 6.88 percent; San Benito up 15.14 percent; and South Padre Island up 9.89 percent.
In Hidalgo County, the figures for August 2019 showed Edinburg up 13.73 percent, as compared to August, 2018. McAllen was up 3.3 percent; Mission up 8.75 percent; Pharr up 3.04 percent; and Weslaco up 3.17 percent.
There was absolutely no change in Mercedes, when comparing August 2019 with August 2018, Ruszczak reported. He said he had not seen a 0.0 percentage figure in many a year.
Rio Grande City’s sales tax revenues for August 2019 are up 8.27 percent. Raymondville, however, saw a 29.13 percent decrease.
“Smaller communities have wild fluctuations,” Ruszczak explained, pointing out that Raymondville’s sales tax revenues have been up 30 percent in other months. “During the first ten months of this year, Raymondville is up 4.12 percent. Small changes can make a big impact percentage-wise.”
Overall, the numbers for the Valley look really good, Ruszczak said.
“We are once again outperforming the state as a whole. After ten months, our region is up 8.12 percent. The state of Texas is up 4.67 percent. We are growing at roughly double the rate of the state.”