The amount of sales tax collected by the government is often viewed as an indicator of how well the economy is doing. If that’s true, Austin’s economy is doing a lot better this year than it was in 2010.
Sales tax receipts in the Capitol City were up 4 percent last month, compared to October of last year, according to the latest figures released by the State Comptroller’s office. Austinites paid $13 million in sales tax last month. In October 2010, the number was about $12.5 million.
Statewide, sales tax figures were up 16 percent in October 2011 compared to last year.
"Strong growth in business sectors such as the oil and natural gas industry boosted sales tax revenue for yet another month," Comptroller Susan Combs said in a news release.
The city that saw the largest percentage increase in sales tax revenue last month was Asherton, a small community in South Texas that has become a boom town because of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale.
Asherton saw its sales tax revenue increase by almost 900 percent last month. The sales tax totals were only $9,900 in October 2011, but for a small municipality, that’s a major increase.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy,” Asherton city manager Odelia Tijerina said. “Non stop traffic. There’s a lot more people in town.”
Tijerina says most of the increased revenue is being used to conduct renovations to its wastewater treatment plans and pay down debt from bonds issues in 1982 and 1984.
“I was working here five years ago as a secretary,” Tijerina said. “We were struggling month to month to make ends meet. Now with that extra revenue we’re not gasping for air anymore. It’s a big help.”
The Flickr user mlhradio posted these pictures from Asherton in 2008 and 2009, before the fracking boom: