Report: The Woodlands sales, hotel tax revenue lower than expected in early 2019

The amount of sales tax and hotel tax revenue generated in the beginning of 2019 fell short of expectations in The Woodlands, but officials said it is too early in the year to assume the trend will continue.

In a financial report presented at The Woodlands March 27 board of directors meeting, Monique Sharp, assistant general manager for finance and administration, said the township saw $13.6 million in sales tax through the end of March, down 2.75 percent from the previous year. Sales tax revenue is 4.9 percent under budget so far this year, she said.

“We are seeing in sales tax right now [that] we are flat in terms of our retail growth, which makes up 52 percent of our budget, and we are actually slightly negative … in food services,” she said.

However, the township is seeing an increase in rental real estate leasing, processional and technical services, and construction, she said.

Despite the decrease in sales tax revenue, township revenue is up overall, with positive showings in property tax, program revenues and interest income, Sharp said.

“We’re only two months into the year, so we’re not talking about a trend,” she said.

The township had budgeted for a 2.2 percent increase in sales tax revenue this year, she said.

Staff had budgeted for the increase because of a Supreme Court decision last year that will allow sales tax to be collected from internet sales, Sharp said. However, the rules for retailers will not be available from the state comptroller’s office until the fourth quarter of the year, she said.

Hotel tax revenue for the first two months of 2019 was about $1.2 million, 7.5 percent lower than the first two months in 2018, Sharp said. She said The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that some of the larger conferences typically held in January in The Woodlands were not held this year, but the outlook for the next few months is positive.

Township board vice Chairman John McMullan, acting as chairman at the March 27 meeting as Chairman Gordy Bunch was absent, said each 1 cent of the property tax rate represents $2.1 million, for comparison purposes.

“We’ll be paying very close attention to this,” he said.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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