Brownwood finance director: Low sales could affect budget surplus
BROWNWOOD, Texas - Brownwood Finance Director Walter Middleton presented a sobering mid-year economic report to Brownwood City Council Tuesday morning, and he believes the city's budget surplus will soon be affected.
The report showed sales tax collection for the 2016-2017 fiscal year declined 3.7 percent compared to last year and is down 5.2 percent compared to the city's budget.
Middleton said sales tax collection in Brownwood has decreased five out of the last seven months.
"April was not a good month, we were down nine percent overall compared to last year and 14 percent in comparison to our budget," Middleton told council members.
Middleton believes the wave of corporate retail closures in Brownwood is taking its toll
"We've perhaps hit a tipping point in the impact of how shopping is being accomplished," Middleton said.
Over the last six months, Staples, Payless ShoeSource, Rue21 and RadioShack locations in the city have closed or announced plans to do so. It hasn't gone unnoticed in the city's budget projections, according to Middleton.
"Those dollars are now making significant impacts on our budget and this is something we're going to have to take into account," he told members.
One of the positives Middleton highlighted at the council meeting was the city's pecan station. This year it produced $93,000 in revenue for the city from October to March. Last year, Brownwood only collected $4,000 during the same time frame.
The mid-year fiscal report also showed a decline in water sales when compared to last year and what the city budgeted for.
"We were hopeful people would go back to their normal buying patterns, and that has not happened," Middleton said.
The city expected to collect $3 million from October to March, but instead has received $2.6 million -- a 12 percent decline compared to its budget projections.
Middleton closed his presentation by telling council members that the city will see a decline in its budget surplus.
"We're probably looking at losing the surplus that we gained in the '15-'16 fiscal year," Middleton said. "Hopefully, we'll just be back to the position we were at the beginning of the last fiscal year."
The report shows the city is running a deficit of $700,000 in its budget surplus compared to what it had this time last year.