The latest sales tax report was released by the Comptroller this morning, and Marble Falls is kicking off the new year in style. The January 2017 report, which reflects sales from November 2016, was up 7.12% over the same period last year and set a new record for a January report. This is a higher rate of growth than the state as a whole (4.83%), as well as several other peer communities. In terms of taxable sales over the last 12 months, the total in Marble Falls is $396.4 million, an increase of $23.2 million over the previous 12 months.
To put this economic growth into perspective, November has not historically been one of our better months in terms of taxable sales—it’s usually in the bottom third of our monthly reports. In November 2016, however, the sales tax collected was very close to the amount collected in April and May of 2016 (which were record-breaking months in their own right) and surpassed the amount of sales tax collected in August of 2016. Moreover, the $642,460.38 collected in November was higher than the sales tax collected in any month—including those with quarterly filers—in 2012. Even though I deal with this kind of thing day in and day out, I find it amazing that one of our worst months today is better than the best months from just a few years ago.
I realize that this evidence of growth means different things to different people and may, in fact, be distressing to some folks who would love to hold on to “lil ol’ Marfalls” forever. The good news for them is that, while the Highland Lakes region is sure to grow, Marble Falls itself likely will not see the rapid population growth that many of our neighbors are experiencing. The City’s Development Services department recently updated their 2016 population estimate to be 6,667 residents. This is a healthy 10% increase over the 2010 census population, but, even in the most aggressive growth scenario, the population in the city is not expected to top 8,000 until 2024-2025. If this projection holds true, I think we can enjoy the benefits of economic growth without sacrificing many of the small-town ideals we hold dear.
I’ll close by sharing my recollection of a conversation I had earlier this afternoon with a local businesswoman, one that encapsulates how I think most people in Marble Falls feel.
She said, “Things sure are growing.”
I said, “Yes, they are.” After an apprehensive pause, I added: “That’s good, right?”
“Of course. Just ignore the people who disagree.”
I winced and said, “Well… I can’t really do that…”
“Okay—just make sure that neither side takes over.”
I think that’s a great approach.