Budget outlook improves for several Cy-Fair taxing entities as sales tax collections rebound

A once uncertain outlook for several Cy-Fair-area taxing entities is starting to improve after sales tax distributions in July—for taxes collected in May—came in higher than the previous year.

Revenue for the city of Jersey Village was up 26% between May 2019 and May 2020, according to data released July 8 from the Texas comptroller’s office. The city brought in $595,000 in sales tax revenue this May compared to $472,000 last year. The data from May comes one month after Jersey Village saw April collections down 21.9% year over year.

Jersey Village officials projected to bring in $3.8 million in sales tax revenue when the fiscal year 2019-20 budget was adopted in September. Back in April, City Manager Austin Bleess said the city could see a loss in sales tax revenue of as much as $700,000 compared to budget projections.

Now, Bleess said the city is likely to exceed budget projections. The city has raised about $3.7 million in sales tax revenue so far, according to the comptroller's office, putting it at 94% of its budgeted projections, Bleess said.

"Our sales tax numbers for July definitely came in higher than anticipated," Bleess said.

Bleess said the city is
still monitoring other areas of its revenue budget that will likely be lower than budgeted. At a June council meeting, Bleess told council members he was keeping tabs on revenue raised through interest rates, fines, warrants and building permits.

"However, the steps we took early on, such as the hiring freeze and delaying some capital projects, will cover any shortfall in revenue we may see," Bleess said.

Meanwhile, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 9, which manages the Cy-Fair Fire Department's budget, saw roughly the same amount of revenue—roughly $3.2 million—in May 2019 and May 2020. In April, ESD No. 9 saw a drop in revenue of 8.4% year over year, according to comptroller data.

After the coronavirus pandemic hit, the company that manages sales tax collections for the ESD projected a drop in revenue of 7.3% this fiscal year compared to the previous one, fire Chief Amy Ramon said. So far, the ESD is only down 4.9%, she said.

In its 2019-20 budget, ESD No. 9 projected to bring in about $38 million in sales tax revenue. It has collected about $22.4 million so far this year, and Ramon said projections show the district finishing the fiscal year with $34.7 million. Sales tax revenue makes up about 54% of overall revenue for ESD No. 9, while property tax revenue makes up about 35%.

"One of the advantages that we have at ESD 9 is that both our commissioners and our legal council have always considered it a good idea to keep reserves in case of a flood, a hurricane or whatever," Ramon said. "We had a years' worth of reserves that are there strictly for times like these. We are very fortunate that this not going to have an impact on our budget this year. We're going to be conservative in our budgeting of the revenue stream for next year also."
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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