Sherman leaders are starting to get a better view of the economic damage left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many businesses to shutter their doors for more than a month.
This week, the city received the sales tax receipts for the month of April which showed revenues down about 16.47 percent when compared to April 2019.
Experts anticipated that April’s numbers could serve as a weather vane for the true scope of the damage done to the economy by the pandemic as March and May’s numbers include days before and after restrictions on gatherings and businesses were put in place.
“It is a little bit better than expected,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “We also think that inside of that number are some one-time hits that might improve it in our favor. We have of course once again requested details reports and we will see what that says.”
Initially, the city was anticipating about a 20 percent decline when compared to the previous April’s numbers By comparison, March saw a 5 percent decrease in sales tax revenues, with higher expectations of loss.
“We are cautiously optimistic right now,” Strauch said. “We are hopeful that this number being lower than expected means good things for the city of Sherman’s budget, and the city of Sherman’s economy.”
Strauch noted that these are initial numbers and the city is requesting a more detailed report in the days. These numbers will include when area businesses were open and the ones who were closed for all of April.
“The bottom line is we don’t know. We don’t know who is up. We don’t know who is down. We don’t know who was closed all month. We don’t know who was open all month, but once we get the detailed report we will have a much better feel on where exactly those gains were made and what were sustainable and what were blips on the radar throughout the year.”
Strauch said April’s sales tax loss may ultimately be an even softer blow than expected once the city receives this detailed report. The city was already anticipating that some businesses would be recouping overpaid sales taxes in April, and that could have contributed to 16.47 percent loss.
“We knew that some hits were coming, but to what effect we just don’t know yet,” Strauch said.
Meanwhile, other parts of the state are keenly feeling the sting from April’s sales tax numbers. For the month of April, Dallas saw a 24.4 percent — $6.27 million — loss on sales tax revenues.
“When you look at the totality of the report, and what other cities around the state are dealing with, there is no question that we could be worse than we are. We are thankful that we are not as far in the hole as we could be, as other cities are.”
Strauch said April’s numbers, including the detailed report, will likely have a major impact on the city’s budgeting process, including the annual budget retreat, which is scheduled for later this month.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.