Float Fest helps turn sales tax allocations footloose in Gonzales County


All four Gonzales County municipalities saw gains in their sales tax allocations for the month of September — perhaps showing some of the impact that Float Fest had on the local economy.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he sent cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts $1.04 billion in local sales tax allocations for September, 13.1 percent more than in September 2021. These allocations are based on sales made in July by businesses that report tax monthly.

Float Fest was held July 22-24 on the Guadalupe River at a 765-acre private ranch on County Road 197 with more than 15,000 people in attendance. Hotel rooms in Gonzales were booked full and grocery and convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and other businesses reported being swamped with customers for the weekend. It also appears there may have been some impact on neighboring cities as well.

For the month of September 2022, Gonzales County municipalities received a combined $298,830.68 in sales tax allocations, up $53,116.61 or more than 21.6 percent from the $245,664.07 received during September 2021. For the year, Gonzales County cities have received a combined $2,714,691.73, up $496,116.55 or 22.4 percent from the $2,218,575.18 received through this point in time last year.

Sales tax allocations for Gonzales, the largest city in the county which generates the lion’s share of sales tax revenue, were $254,527.36 — up $46,180.46 or 22.16 percent above the $208,346.90 received last September. The month is Gonzales’ seventh-best ever when taking into account single months and not ones which include quarterly payments.

Gonzales’ best September ever in sales tax allocation was September 2014, when the city received $269,742.28 in sales tax allocations, just $15,214.92 more than the city received in this month.

For the year, Gonzales has received $2,356,053.44, an increase of $476,429.45, or 25.34 percent, above the $1,879,623.99 the city received through this point last year.

“It certainly looks like Float Fest contributed to an increase in the sales tax during July when comparing July 2021 to July 2022. We need to have Q3 HOT data from the comptroller’s office before we make any bold statements,” said Jennifer Kolbe, executive director of the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation. “We have heard positive reports that the hotels were full. Retailers have told us they had a steady stream of visitors looking for a cool place to get out of the extreme heat.

“Other contributing factors to the sales tax increase are the Star Spangled Spectacular, events at the JB Wells Expo and Rodeo Arena, sales at our home improvement stores for residential and commercial remodeling, and contractors in town working on infrastructure projects.

“We have been on a good upward trend in sales tax revenue for a several months. We are grateful when residents shop local, and tourist choose to spend their money here. The sales tax provides needed income for city to invest back into the community,” Kolbe added.

“I was very impressed with the impact of Float Fest had on local sales taxes and the festival itself was unbelievable,” said County Judge Pat Davis. “We prepared very much for it and it all turned out to be successful. Everybody had a good time and there were no problems even with 16,000 people in attendance.

“I was there as county judge as much as possible to see what was going on. It was amazing that people were out there, picking up trash and they didn't believe in littering the river. I had a great time and I believe not only will they be back next year, but we could see the numbers increase.”

Float Fest founder Marcus Federman said, "I am thrilled to see that Gonzales was able to thrive from all the Float Fest patrons!  We hope to continue this trend in future years and help the business of Gonzales prosper."

Sales tax receipts for Nixon were $35,769.20, up $6,462.01, or 22.04 percent, above the $29,307.19 received in September 2021. It was even better than the $35,187.73 the city received in August 2022, which included quarterly taxes from the second quarter, so it is possible Float Fest could have had an impact in Nixon as well.

This represents the best single-month sales tax allocation for Nixon since December 2017, when the city received $76,688.58. It appears to be a blessing for a city which used to receive much larger sales tax allocations seven to eight years ago just after the end of the Great Recession, but had experienced the loss of a number of businesses that contributed to sales tax receipts.

For the year, sales tax allocations are up $20,395.47 or eight percent, with Nixon receiving $275,326.40 through nine months of 2022, compared to $254,930.99 for the same period last year.

Waelder saw sales tax receipts of $6,182.81, an increase of $294.78, or five percent, above last September’s allocation of $5,888.03 and an increase of $246.64 above last month’s allocation of $5,936.17, which included quarterly tax filings. This represents the city’s tenth-best single month ever; however, the city did have better allocations in June, March and January of this year.

For the year, the sales tax allocation is down 1.62 percent or $947.27, from $58,311.65 received through the first nine months of 2021 to the $57,364.38 received through the same period this year.

Finally, Smiley’s sales tax receipts were $2,351.31, an increase of 10.8 percent above the $2,121.95 allocated in September 2021. For the year, sales tax allocations are up $238.90, or 0.92 percent, from $25,708.61 at this point last year to $25,947.51 this year.

Two cities in Gonzales County — Gonzales and Nixon — collect a 1.5 percent sales tax rate, while Smiley and Waelder collect a 1 percent sales tax.