The Deep East Texas Council of Governments or DETCOG says third quarter retail sales tax revenue hit a new record in its 12-county region. If the trend continues, it will be the best year for local taxable retail sales since DETCOG started tracking this local revenue stream eight years ago.
A robust summer tourism season and back-to-school shopping helped boost local retail sales, according to DETCOG executive director Walter Diggles.
“It was kind of an oxymoron for the sale tax trend to be that positive with the loss of jobs we experienced this summer,” Diggles said, from his office in Jasper. “We are a bit shocked by that. But it’s very pleasing numbers with the strength of the economy for the future.”
Big job losses -- like General Electric laying off more than 500 employees in Lufkin -- will be felt in the economy, Diggles says. But he sees signs of the bloodletting easing up in the oil and gas sector. Still, there’s a lot more work to be done, he says, to shore up lagging jobs in the oil patch.
“The economic development professionals and elected officials need to be focusing on creating jobs, and trying to make sure that the oil prices don’t have a permanent effect on the long-term viability of the region,” Diggles said.
Home construction is strong in the region, Diggles added, mainly due to ongoing new construction from Hurricane Ike seven years ago. Regional taxable sales totaled $1.3 billion in the third quarter, up $61 million year-over-year.
The Deep East Texas Council of Governments’ region includes the counties of Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler. Its members include local governments, school districts, water districts, non-governmental organizations and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
The state’s local allocations have a two-month delay to allow for complete reporting and calculation of the taxes.