Records from the state comptroller’s office show that in December 2017, McKinney’s sales tax allocation was more than $5.2 million. In December 2018, the city’s sales tax allocation swelled to more than $5.6 million.
“From a Downtown McKinney standpoint, Q4 is the most important time of the year,” said Amy Rosenthal, director of the McKinney Main Street Program, in an email.
From January to November 2018, McKinney received an average of $4.44 million in sales tax revenue per month, reports from the state comptroller’s office show. In December, however, that number jumped to $5.66 million, a difference of $1.22 million.
Cindy Schneible, president of the McKinney Community Development Corp., said this increase is partly because during the Christmas season, more people come to visit the city of McKinney.
“Events like Home for the Holidays and the Rotary Parade of Lights and other events that maybe individual merchants are holding around the holiday period really do attract people into McKinney,” she said.
Downtown McKinney visitors may be looking for gifts for their family and friends or may use the restaurants in McKinney as gathering places for celebrations, Rosenthal said.
“All activity contributes to [the] city of McKinney’s and our community’s economic well-being,” Rosenthal said.
While the city of McKinney does not track the number of daytime visitors it receives, Schneible said that through an outside consultant, the city can use cell phone analysis to track its visitors.
Cell phone analysis was used for the city’s Oktoberfest festival, she said, and the city estimates the numbers from that analysis were about 80% accurate.
“We account for kids and then people that may not have their cell phones on them,” Schneible said. “The number that they were able to document was 65,000 visitors to McKinney over that weekend.”
She said the city is expecting a similar amount of visitors for its Home for the Holidays event.
“This is the time of year that people want to spend time with family and friends, and downtown offers visitors a chance to discover one-of-a-kind gifts and enjoy delicious food,” Rosenthal said in her email. “Christmastime in Downtown McKinney is the best time of the year.”
Bonnie Howard owns Orisons Boutique in downtown McKinney, which has been in business for more than 25 years. Howard says McKinney’s downtown is always busy, but she notices a jump in business during the end of the year.
“It’s just super hustle-and-bustle during the second of the third quarter, into the whole fourth quarter,” she said. “It’s good.”
The power of sales tax revenue
This year, in concert with the timing of Small Business Saturday, an unofficial American shopping holiday focused on shopping at small businesses, and Home for the Holidays, the McKinney Community Economic Development Corp. has launched a campaign to help show the value of shopping in McKinney.
“We really want to find a way to better connect with McKinney residents and help them understand how local shopping and dining, in turn, creates revenue that’s being reinvested into the community for quality of life improvements,” Schneible said.
The McKinney Community Development Corp. is funded by a $0.005 sales tax, revenue from which is used for community projects, including entertainment venues, museums, parks and open-space improvements, hike and bike trails and affordable housing.
When people shop in McKinney, that money gets reinvested into the community, Schneible said.
“It doesn’t sound like a lot when you say ‘a half-cent,’ but if you look at our experience just over the past year, that translated into $14.5 million,” Schneible said. “And since 1996, when we were established, the board has approved more than $155 million in grant funds from that half-cent sales tax. And you see it. You see the impact of it all over McKinney when you look at the parks and you look at the Performing Arts Center—when you look at Chestnut Square and the improvements there.”
The amount of sales tax revenue McKinney receives has increased year over year from fiscal year 2018 to 2019, according to reports from the state comptroller’s office. Schneible said this is due in part to McKinney’s growth and expanded offerings, even beyond the city’s downtown area.
“Certainly, there are a lot of visitors that come and shop downtown and a lot of McKinney residents that come and shop downtown, but we’ve also been able to expand the offerings,” she said. “As McKinney grows, we’ve also been able to expand those options.”
Year over year, the McKinney Community Development Corp. has seen a total sales tax revenue increase of about 4.5% from the $0.005 sales tax, she said.
She added that it is important to support local businesses beyond just the holidays.
“Everybody understands why it’s important to support your local business, but I don’t know that they always make the connection that, ‘If I do that, then it also leads to ... I’m helping support; I’m participating in the creation of these community facilities, amenities and so on,’” Schneible said. “We’re hoping that’s what we’re able to achieve here.”