Sugar Land city manager weighs in on economic strain attributed to coronavirus pandemic

Sugar Land is feeling the economic strain from the coronavirus pandemic. (Beth Marshall/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sugar Land is feeling the economic strain from the coronavirus pandemic. (Beth Marshall/Community Impact Newspaper)

Sugar Land is feeling the economic strain from the coronavirus pandemic. (Beth Marshall/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend County Judge KP George issued a Stay Home to Save Lives order March 24, which will remain in effect through April 3.

"While [in the] short-term, the economic impact is difficult, based on the global experience with the coronavirus, this is the only way that we can be able to preserve the long-term economic and social fabric of our community," George said.

Jacquelyn Minter, Fort Bend County Health and Human Services director, said these orders were put in place to protect the local health care system and, “speed the return of health to our communities and our economy,” during a March 24 press conference.

However, because of these closures and limitations, Sugar Land is feeling the economic strain.

"This will significantly affect planning for the budget," Sugar Land City Manager Mike Goodrum said in an email. "While our finances are sound and resilient, the economic impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented. We are working hard to model short-term and long-term impacts; however, no one knows when this event will end and what the ultimate impact will be."

Goodrum, who became the new city manager in January, said planning for the fiscal year 2020-21 budget is ongoing and includes estimations as to how the economic strain will affect various revenue sources. Sales tax, mixed beverage taxes and hotel occupancy taxes are the main areas in which the city is anticipating decreases, Goodrum said.

"While our priority is the health and safety of the public, there are business closures that must happen in order to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus," he said. "There is an inevitable impact to the local economy. However, at this time, we can’t quantify the impact. Residents and businesses can support our local food establishments by ordering takeout and delivery to help support our community."

Goodrum said Sugar Land's finances were in a positive position at the end of FY 2018-19, which he said he hoped will help offset the anticipated decline in FY 2019-20 revenue.

"As we develop the FY21 budget, the main factor influencing the budget is the duration of this event and how quickly the economy can recover," he said. "Our conservative forecasting for sales tax provides additional flexibility in that we are not counting on growth to balance the budget. This allows us to proactively make adjustments to nonessential services to reduce expenditures."

City staff is working to collect information from local businesses to assess their strain. Staff is also assessing the economic effects of postponing events at destination venues, Goodrum said.

During this time, the city's economic development department is focused on communicating with local businesses, offering support and developing a recovery plan that could potentially include new local assistance programs and legislative advocacy, Goodrum said. This could allow for flexible use of economic development funds toward recovery efforts, he said in an email.

"We are building scenarios based on possible revenue losses in revenues generated by this sector in sales and mixed beverage taxes," Goodrum said. "Our hotels are seeing cancellations of conferences and events, and will feel a significant impact as well. The primary unknown at this time is the duration of the closures."
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.


MOST RECENT

Here is the latest coronavirus hospitalization and new case data from Fort Bend County. (Community Impact staff)
Fort Bend County hospitals are treating 234 coronavirus patients—a record high since the pandemic began

Of the 234 people being treated for the coronavirus in Fort Bend County hospitals, 51 are in the ICU.

The City of Galveston has decided to close all beaches for the 4th of July weekend. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Galveston closes beaches for Fourth of July weekend

The beaches will be closed from 5 a.m July 3 until 12:01 a.m. July 6. No cars will be allowed to park on Seawall Boulevard during this time.

Texas Medical Center entered Phase 2 surge levels as of July 1. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
Texas Medical Center enters Phase 2 of capacity plan as COVID-19 ICU use continues to rise

ICU occupancy at Texas Medical Center has entered Phase 2 surge levels.

The Fort Bend Children's Discovery Center has implemented a number of measures, including mandatory mask use, ahead of its July 7 reopening. (Courtesy Fort Bend Children's Discovery Center)
Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center plans July 7 reopening with minds-on, not hands-on, activities

The muesum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and vistors must preorder tickets online.

Money stock art
Comptroller: Texas June sales tax revenue totaled $2.7 billion, down 6.5% from a year ago

The Texas comptroller's office has released June sales tax revenue figures.

The city of Sugar Land has moved to a virtual Fourth of July celebration, while Missouri City canceled its annual event over coronavirus concerns. (Courtesy city of Missouri City)
Here is the latest information on Fourth of July celebrations in Sugar Land, Missouri City

Find out where to see fireworks and what to expect from July 4 events in the Sugar Land and Missouri City area.

The report comes as Texas, like states across the country, puzzles through decisions on what the upcoming academic year will look like for students and staff. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Texas Education Agency: 1 in 10 students have disengaged during the pandemic

More than 600,000 Texas public school students didn't complete assignments or respond to outreach during the coronavirus pandemic.

While there are many unknowns regarding public education operations next year, one thing is for certain: Students will be required to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Students to be required to take STAAR test in 2020-21 school year

While there are many unknowns regarding public education operations next year, one thing is for certain: Students will be required to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test.

Here is the latest coronavirus case count information for Fort Bend County. (Community Impact Staff)
60 new coronavirus cases added, ICU hospitalizations down in Fort Bend County on June 30

In the month of June alone, Fort Bend County reported 1,921 coronavirus cases, which represents 51% of its total cases.

H-E-B officials confirmed via email June 30 that all stores will require shoppers and employees to wear masks beginning July 1. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require all shoppers to wear masks amid coronavirus

H-E-B officials confirmed via email June 30 that all stores will require shoppers and employees to wear masks beginning July 1.

Masks will be mandatory in most Fort Bend County businesses through the month of July after commissioners extended a face covering order June 30. (Courtesy Pexel)
Fort Bend County extends order requiring face masks inside businesses through July

The county's existing face mask order was set to expire June 30. Under the extension, businesses are required to have customers and employees wear masks through July 31.

The June visa suspension includes skilled foreign workers associated with various fields, such as energy, technology, medicine and academics. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Experts: National visa suspension could affect workforce in top Houston-area industries

The June visa suspension includes skilled foreign workers associated with various fields, such as energy, technology, medicine and academics.