San Angelo’s high-flying economic ride is over for now said Phil Neighbors, president of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. “For the first time in 54 months, or about 4.5 years, San Angelo’s sales tax receipts have declined,” he said, looking over recent sales tax collections and a revenue chart that the chamber compiles for its members every month. The chamber compares monthly sales tax receipts and compares them to the same month a year prior.
The city and county governments here benefit from sales tax revenue, currently set at 8.25 percent. The city gets 1 percent, and the City of San Angelo Development Corporation receives 0.5 percent. The county receives 0.5 percent and the rest goes to the State of Texas Comptroller.
|City of San Angelo||1.00%|
|City of San Angelo Development Corp. (COSA-DC)||0.50%|
|Tom Green County||0.50%|
|State of Texas||6.25%|
Source: City of San Angelo
Neighbors considers sales tax revenue a key indicator of the economic condition of San Angelo. In his November 2015 report that measures Aug. 2015 sales tax receipts, revenue was down 8 percent in an Aug. 2015 to Aug. 2015 comparison. Year-to-date, the picture isn’t as bad. Total 2015 receipts through Aug. 2015 are down only 0.5 percent when compared to the first eight months of 2014.
|Jurisdiction||Aug. 2015 vs. Aug. 2014||YTD, 2015 vs. 2014|
Compiled by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts data.
Neighbors said from his experience, like most economic stories, San Angelo’s is cyclical, and these downturns last about 15 months. “The last downturn was from 2009-2010. And even before the energy sector took off with the oil boom, we were in recovery by 2010,” Neighbors said. When the oil boom hit in 2012, it drove up average sales tax receipts to an unprecedented 4.5 years of 8-percent annual growth.
“For this downturn, I think everyone was prepared; and, we haven’t seen a dramatic drop,” Neighbors said.
The effects of the downturn are cushioned by San Angelo’s diversified economy, particularly with the public sector: Goodfellow Air Force Base and the two colleges, Angelo State University and Howard College.
“Midland and Odessa have higher highs and lower lows than San Angelo,” Neighbors said, because the Midland DMA is more dependent upon energy. He added, “San Angelo is not standing still just because the energy sector is down.”
Goodfellow AFB has added two courses, increasing the number of local jobs by 142, 17th Wing Public Affairs Officer Lt. Nathanial Roesner said. The reported increase includes military payroll, civil service employees and contractors. An Army Morse Code course was added, and a U.S. Marine Corps signal intelligence course was too, he said.
Neighbors stated the chamber worked with Governor Greg Abbott’s office to obtain a state-funded grant to rehabilitate an old building on Goodfellow AFB to usher in the growth. A higher head count of students at Goodfellow means more growth for the retail and services sector, Neighbors argues.
At Angelo State University, student growth is making new records, bringing in more revenue to the local economy. ASU enrolled a record 8,521 students in 2015, compared to the previous record in 2011 of 7,084. The principle reason was growth in graduate students and a new dual credit program for area high school students. The number of undergraduate students grew slightly from 5,346 in 2014 to 5,411 in 2015. Total revenue into Angelo State University the 2014-2015 academic year tops $148 million, supporting 888 faculty and staff, according to Angie Wright, Vice President of Finance and Administration at ASU.
“There are still great opportunities because of public sector,” Neighbors said, pointing towards the retail and services sectors of the local economy. The silver lining for these two sectors is human resources.
“Costs have stabilized and labor is more plentiful,” he said.