During the debates surrounding the passage of Jacksonville's wet/dry election in May 2010, one of the prominent arguments supporting lifting a ban on alcohol sales was the potential for increased tax revenue.
Since the passage of Proposition 1, Jacksonville has witnessed a nearly 15-months-long growth streak for sales tax revenues, interrupted by one month with a .59 percent decrease, according ot the Texas Comptroller's Office. The city had been on a months-long sales tax losing streak prior to the passage of the proposition.
Although officials can't fully attribute the growth to alcohol sales, they know “it has effected revenues to some extent,” Financial Director Freddy Thomas said.
When the City of Troup began reaping revenues after the May passage of their alcohol election in 2011, it immediately experienced an increase of 15 percent in tax revenues, followed by months of double-digit increases. For the entire year, sales taxes were approximately $34,000 higher than in 2010, even though alcohol sales didn't start kicking in until halfway through 2011.
Troup City Secretary Cheryl Jimerson said alcohol sales probably comprise a large part of the growth.
Similarly, when Rusk went wet in 2009, the city began seeing tax revenues increase by 24.5 percent, followed by months of double-digit percent increases.
Yet with multiple cities in the county having passed alcohol elections, officials are starting to wonder whether a level playing field will abate revenue increases spurred by alcohol sales.
“Henderson passed wine and beer sales recently, I don't know if we'll see it (sales tax revenues) taper off because of that,” City Secretary Cheryl Jimerson said.
Similarly, Thomas said that when one city in the area passes alcohol elections, it has a direct effect on sales tax revenues in surrounding cities.
“For Rusk and Cuney, you can almost take the numbers they've lost and add it (sales tax reveunes) to us,” Thomas said.
According to figures available through the Comptroller's office, 2011 brought in a $350,000 increase over last year's sales tax revenues for Jacksonville. At the same time, Rusk lost $70,000 in sales taxes from 2010 to 2011.
“But last year (2010) was an above average year, it was the highest year we've ever had. We weren't expecting to have the same kind of year we had last year,” Mayor Angela Raiborn said.
Indeed, sales in Rusk during 2010 generated about $682,000 in sales tax revenues, the largest amount recorded in the Comptroller's archives.
For the City of Cuney, which has been wet since the mid-1980s, 2010 marked a year of losses. The city, which brought in around $138,000 in 2009, brought in approximately $92,000 in 2010.
In 2011, Cuney brought in even less, with a total of about $58,500 in sales tax income.
Cuney Mayor Oscar Birdow said the losses are due to the economy, “but we have had some stores close, (and) some have been closed for a year or so now.”