METRO sales tax revenue could see over $100 million hit in fiscal year 2020-21

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County could see over $100 million in losses in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2020-21. (Courtesy METRO)
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County could see over $100 million in losses in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2020-21. (Courtesy METRO)

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County could see over $100 million in losses in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2020-21. (Courtesy METRO)

An early forecast shows that the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County could see over $100 million in losses in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2020-21, officials said during a METRO Finance and Audit Committee meeting May 20.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the region’s economic downturn, the transit provider's reduction in service and falling oil prices, are expected to reduce anticipated revenue for the transit provider, said Phil Brenner, METRO director of management and budget.

“COVID-19 and the collapse of oil prices in the Houston economy are going to affect us,” he said.

About one third of Houston’s economic output is tied directly to oil and gas, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. Sales tax revenue makes up the vast majority of METRO’s revenue—at least 70%—and is collected via a one-cent tax throughout its transit service area.

A boon for the transit provider comes in the form of expected federal funding from the over $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which set aside $25 billion for the nation's transit agencies.


METRO estimates it will use $180 million out of an expected total CARES Act grant of $249 million to reimburse operating expenses.


With the help of the CARES Act funds, overall revenues are expected to be $10.2 million lower than what was budgeted for FY 2019-20, which ends Sept. 30, Brenner said, with $1.04 billion as compared to the budgeted $1.06 billion.

Shaping such forecasts is early sales tax revenue data from May 2020, which shows a $10.7 million shortfall, though it should be noted that May sales tax revenue data comes from March activity.

Expenditures, on the other hand, are expected to come in $172.4 million under budget, at $973.6 million instead of $1.146 billion.

However, all data could see changes when updated later into the year, METRO CEO and President Thomas Lambert said.

“What we’re seeing here we may need to take down even more,” Lambert said to the committee.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


MOST RECENT

As of June 4, 14 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed and 56 residents and staff are being monitored at the center. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Outbreak reported at Humble rehab facility

As of June 4, 14 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed and 56 residents and staff are being monitored at the center.

I-69/Loop 610
Total shutdown: All lanes of I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed at Loop 610 on June 5-8

The shutdown begins at 9 p.m. Friday, June 5 until 5 a.m. Monday, June 8.

Montrose is getting its own farmers market starting June 7. (Courtesy Pexels)
New weekly farmers market debuts in Montrose this weekend

The organizer of the Braeswood Farmers Market is bringing a new market to Montrose area.

CMS also unveiled an interactive map that lets users search any nursing home in the U.S. to see its COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
CMS reports 321 coronavirus deaths in Texas nursing homes, nearly 32,000 nationwide

CMS also unveiled an interactive map that lets users search any nursing home in the U.S. to its COVID-19 cases.

While the Texas Supreme Court's 15th Emergency Order issued May 14 allowed residential eviction proceedings to resume statewide beginning May 19 following a two-month hiatus, the order does not require those proceedings to resume. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hidalgo, Turner request eviction moratorium be extended through Aug. 24

In hopes of avoiding a new wave of homelessness plaguing Harris County, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo have requested all justices of the peace countywide to postpone eviction hearings until late August.

Total cases have risen to 13,268 in Harris County, 7,812 of which are considered active while 5,215 are confirmed to have recovered. A total of 241 people are confirmed to have died from the coronavirus in the county.(Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 241 new cases, 5 deaths confirmed June 3

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 45% of new cases statewide between May 26 and June 2 can be tied to prisons, jails, meat packing plants or nursing homes.

Houston police department
Houston residents call for police reforms, reduced budget at City Council hearing

The day after a march honoring Houston native George Floyd, speakers called for more spending on social services and better police oversight.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Phase 3 of his Open Texas plan June 3. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott's June 3 guidelines allow most Texas businesses to operate at 50% capacity

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to lift coronavirus-related business restrictions.

Participants held fists in the air during a moment of silence at a June 2 protest over the death of George Floyd. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Criminal justice research expert weighs in on George Floyd protests and the sentiments driving them

"I think the data is clear and convincing that there is a problem. I think that we now have societal consensus of that problem and accepting that data."

Food For Heroes has supported between 10-15 local restaurants while feeding health care workers fighting against COVID-19. (Courtesy Food For Heroes)
Bellaire High School students form nonprofit to feed health care workers through local restaurants

The student-run nonprofit has helped 10-15 local restaurants deliver food to health care workers.

Houston Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as it handles increased food distribution during COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Food Bank)
Houston Food Bank: Volunteers needed now more than ever

The Houston Food Bank is distributing more than double the usual amount of food throughout the community.

Bellaire City Council has delayed paying out additional funding to a construction management company until the council gains more clarity on how long the company was contracted to work. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bellaire council delays action on additional funding for street projects

Both projects missed their target completion dates by several months.