STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — City leaders are taking steps to keep pace with infrastructure needs and skyrocketing property values as economic development officials report booming business permits and sales tax figures, according to a 2017 mid-year economic snapshot of Marble Falls.
Officials recently reported figures that reflect record-breaking milestones in the area of taxable sales, one of the indicators of a thriving economy.
For the first time ever, the city has surpassed $400 million in taxable sales during a 12-month period, according to the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp.
“It’s not just goods; it’s services that include a local sales tax. Between the goods and the services in Marble Falls, that’s a pretty substantial number for the size of our community,” EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher said. “It really demonstrates we are a regional economy and not just the 6,600 or so who live in the community.”
Another significant figure involves the pace at which sales tax figures have grown over the past several years.
“So far this year, we’ve seen double-digit numbers,” Fletcher said. “We’re at 12.28 percent (to date).
“Three to four to five percent is a really good month. To be well more than double that is pretty extraordinary,” he added. “The growth and the economy (are) accelerating. It’s not just holding steady with modest growth.”
The following figures provide a look at incremental growth in sales tax figures since 2014:
- 2014 — 1.14 percent better than the prior year
- 2015 — 5.06 percent better
- 2016 — 6.19 percent better
Small and large business activity has contributed to the numbers.
“Construction activity is driving a lot of that, both from a retail/building material standpoint as well as wholesale activity/general services,” Fletcher said. “(This) includes your utilities, which are up substantially year over year.
“Professional services are up quite a bit, and that would include some of your flooring contractors and HVAC installers,” he added.
A jump in the number of building permits in just one year demonstrates a “substantial” increase in entrepreneurs setting up stakes in Marble Falls.
The total value of permits issued increased from $50.8 million to $68.6 million from 2015 to 2016.
“That is residential and commercial. In terms of number of permits, it’s about 50-50. The commercial value is substantially larger,” Fletcher said.
While businesses welcome such thriving figures, the rapid growth could could weigh heavily on property owners and infrastructure needs of the community.
“People need to be mindful about how things are happening and manage expectations accordingly,” Fletcher said. “Our water plant and wastewater plant are adequate based on the recent improvements made to those facilities.”
Taxpayers who own real estate might feel a pinch in the pocketbook with an increased threat of being “priced out of the market.”
“The reason why the appraisals are going up is because there are things being sold at a market rate. It should never be at 100 percent but 80 or 90 percent of the actual value,” he said. “That’s happening because there are transactions in the market, and you can trace those transactions to general optimism about the market. The appraisal district is responding accordingly.”
While new business finds its way into the Marble Falls market, officials said they strive to retain and cultivate existing business.
“That’s (rising property values) an unintended consequence. The downtown area is where a lot of the businesses saw a lot of increases,” Fletcher said. “We don’t want those people who own real estate in a downtown area, we don’t want to see them not be able to afford their real estate anymore because they’re being priced out of the market.”
NEW BUSINESSES OPENING IN 2017
The following is a latest list of new business set to open in Marble Falls in 2017:
- Mojo Coffee, U.S. 281 at 1300 Lantana Drive; currently under construction
- Koko Fit Club, 1400 RR 1431, Suite 120; possible 2017 opening date
- Donut Crown, 316 U.S. 281 North; in the midst of remodeling and expected to be open sometime in 2017
- Little Caesars Pizza, 1304 U.S. 281 North, Suite 401; awarded a demolition permit and awaiting building permit approval