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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Orange's longterm plans bring big jump in sales taxes

 

Last updated 9/26/2023 at 5:23pm

Two decades ago, voters in the city of Orange approved adding a half-cent per dollar sales tax for economic development to help boost businesses to town.

The longterm effort appears to be paying off. The city's income from sales taxes is up nearly 32 percent for the first nine months of the year with a total of $7.31 million so far compared to $5.55 million for the same period last year.

The city's sales taxes for the month of July were up nearly 79 percent from July 2022, with $900,478 this year and $503,205 for July last year. The numbers are from the Texas Comptroller's Office, which collects all sales taxes and then reimburses them to the entities that collect them.

The increase in the sales taxes may be attributed to special grants the city's Economic Development Corporation's board of directors has given to new businesses, plus existing businesses expanding.


The city has an overall 1.5 cents per dollar sales tax, or 1.5 percent of qualified purchase. The general sales taxes go into the city's regular operating budget, while the special EDC half-cent tax goes into a fund for more investments to attract businesses.

City business expansion investments during the past 20 years have included expanding water and sewer lines to different areas, including along parts of Highway 62, along Highway 87 South, and to the new Eagle Point development with mini-hospital off Interstate 10 and Highway 62.

Those attractions can include developing parks to enhance the community.

Voters in Orange approved the special EDC tax in 2002 after two previous failures. The first grant was approved in 2004 for extending water and sewer along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near Tulane Road. The city hired Jay Trahan as the first, and only EDC director, in late 2008.


The Orange County Economic Development Corporation is a separate entity and does not have a sales tax for development grants.

People shopping in Orange, and all over the county, pay a county sales tax. Orange County's sales taxes have a healthy increase, perhaps boosted by sales in the city of Orange. The county has the lowest sales tax of all the sales taxing entities with only 0.5 percent, or a half-cent per dollar.

For July, Orange County collected $642,017, up 7.84 percent from the $594,640 collected in July 2022. The county now has $6.09 million collected for the year to date, compared to $5.44 million last year, nearly 12 percent more.


Bridge City, with a 1.5 percent sales tax, has been stagnant. The city collected $164,974 for July, compared to $162,791 for the same month last year, an increase of 1.34 percent. The city is down less than 1 percent for the year to date, collected $1.67 million, compared to $1.674 million last year.

West Orange has had healthy increases in sales tax income. The city has a 1.25 percent sales tax and received $117,230 for July, up 7.84 percent from $108,697 in July last year. The city is now at $1.11 million for the year to date, compared to $1.02 million last year, an increase of 8.19 percent.

Pinehurst was up for July, but down slightly for the year to date. The city has a 1.5 percent sales tax and received $55,670 for July, an increase of 6.33 percent from July 2022. The city now has $497,226 for the year to date, compared to $504,061 for the same time last year, a decrease of 1.3 percent.


Vidor saw a big jump for this July, a 36.21 percent increase from last year with $366,516 this year, compared to $269,082 last year. The city, with a 1.5 percent sales tax, has $2.84 million for the year to date, compared to $2.64 million last year, an increase of 7.69 percent.

The Little Cypress Fire and Rescue Department, or Orange County Emergency Services District No. 3, is the only special district in the county with a sales tax and has a 1.5 percent rate. The district collected $19,860 for July, compared to $23,800 last year. However, the district is up for the year to date with $224,705, compared to $219,660 last year.

 

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