CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — When 23-year-old Becca McCrocklin arrived home from college, she resettled into quite a different town with more retail outlets and eateries than when she first left.
“We have more options. It definitely shows that we’re growing,” McCrocklin said. “It’s not considered a small town anymore.”
One of her favorite additions to the community in 2016 is Ross Dress For Less, which has changed the way she shops.
“It’s exciting that Marble Falls is growing and adding a new clothing store,” she said. “It definitely comes in handy when I need an outfit fast and do not have enough time to go all the way into Austin.”
The latest sales tax figures are reflecting what the young Marble Falls resident has experienced in her hometown.
Officials report that the amount of sales tax collections has increased by 6.19 percent in 2016 over last year’s increase of 5.06 percent.
Of $394 million in taxable sales, the city of Marble Falls, with its 2 percent sales tax, collected $8 million.
The city and the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. divide those funds between their budgets at 75 percent to 25 percent, respectively.
“The region is growing — southern Burnet County, Llano County. We’re picking up new residents. There are jobs that are available for these people, also retirees, so there’s more people coming into the Hill Country. So we see added spending there,” EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher said. “As we get new things in Marble Falls that allow people to shop local and not have to go into Austin or Bee Cave or Georgetown to buy certain things, that helps with the growth as well.”
An even broader snapshot of the numbers reveals a positive trend.
“Our economy has expanded by $100 million in the last five years,” Fletcher said.
More purchasing power has attracted more business and retail development.
“ … Look at the new retail development in the old Sutherland’s space where you now have Ross, Goodwill and Spec’s and a whole center in front of that,” Fletcher said. “There have been replacements of businesses along 281. There are also new businesses in the downtown area that are contributing to that.”
During this time of economic expansion, 2013 proved to be an exceptional year with as much as a 15 percent spike in sales tax collections over 2012 due to the height of construction of the regional hospital at the U.S. 281/Texas 71 intersection.
Considered an anomaly, however, officials prefer single-digit growth figures from year to year instead.
“We’re growing, and it’s at a reasonable pace. … It’s a good healthy number, and it’s not so explosive that it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on,” he said. “Communities along the I-35 corridor (Austin and San Antonio area) have struggled to keep their identity because of the rate of growth of their economies.
“We’re in what we feel like is a nice position with the steady, more measured growth,” he added.