July 07--The city of Ingram recently had its third-best month ever for sales taxes and is on target to exceed budgeted revenues this year.
The Texas Comptroller's Office, which collects city and state sales taxes, gave Ingram a $45,450 payment in June for sales made in April. The June payment last year was $39,247. The year before, it was $33,623.
"Sales tax generally picks up during the spring and summer months, so I think it's a combination of being at the maximum time of year and having additional merchants collecting sales tax," Ingram City Manager Stan Neuse said. "I think it's sort of a reflection that people are spending a little bit more money. All those are good things as far as I'm concerned."
Ingram sales tax revenues began surging last September, when taxes from businesses annexed in March 2013 began flowing into the city's coffers. The city has collected $248,217 so far this year, compared to $215,237 during the same period last year and $203,187 the year before.
Neuse indicated the increased revenue will make it easier to budget tens of thousands for street maintenance next year. Mayor James Salter has said he hopes the additional revenue can be used to lower -- or prevent an increase of -- the property tax rate, which increased 10.4 percent to 52.23 cents per $100 of taxable value.
The city this year budgeted $1.27 million in revenues and $1.42 million in expenses. The difference was drawn from reserves, which in August, was expected to be about $350,000.
The city annexed business properties along the north side of Texas 27 to the east, and businesses along Texas 39 to the west. In December, the city annexed the Ingram Lake Dam Store and began collecting sales taxes from that retailer this spring.
"We've seen a pretty good jump in our monthly sales tax that we pay in, so somebody's getting the benefit," said Richard Land, co-owner of the Dam Store. "It doesn't affect us in any way -- we still make the same profit; we just collect more tax for the state. ... Business is booming right now. It's been a good summer so far and today's rolling pretty good, too."
All major businesses in Ingram have been annexed, including Bernhard Meat Processing & Market, Dollar General, Mini Mart and A&A Tire Services. According to city officials, most businesses wanted to be annexed so they can tie into the city of Kerrville's wastewater system in the next year.
The $1.3 million sewer project, funded through a state loan at 3.27 percent interest, will begin in the next month, last about 10 months and get 80-90 businesses off septic systems, officials have said.
Land said the owner of the strip mall where the Dam Store is plans to build more space for businesses after the property receives sewer services. A man who owns a storage facility by Bank of the Hills also plans to expand his business, and he bought additional properties on Texas 27 in anticipation of the new sewer lines, Neuse said.
"We're going to be able to attract the kinds of businesses that find it difficult to do without wastewater facilities," Neuse said. "Restaurants are an example. They have a good bit of effluent and have to tie up a lot of land for their septic fields. So when they no longer have to do that, there's room for another business."
Neuse said at least four or five new businesses have opened their doors in Ingram this year.
"Every little bit helps," Neuse said. "And it means, among other things, that somebody's got to work in those places, so it's causing some job creation as well. So, I think it's an all-around good thing for the city."
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