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Featured, from left: Elva Jackson Garza, Member, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Richard Molina; Julio César Carranza, Member, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Alex Ríos, Chairman, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Jacob De León, Immediate Past Chairman, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. These city leaders were participating in a grand opening of a local business during Fall 2017.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

Edinburg’s retail economy in November 2017 showed one of the best improvements among the Valley’s largest cities, generating more than $1.6 million in local sales taxes for that month, an increase of 8.49 percent over November 2016, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends. The local sales tax is also used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. For November 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,652,449,46 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,523,109.54 in November 2016, representing an increase of 8.49 percent. In terms of local sales tax revenue for November 2017, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $5,010,846.63, while Brownsville was second ($3,051,584.55), Harlingen was third ($1,922,065.33), and Edinburg was fourth ($1,652,449,46). The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825). he Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.

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Edinburg’s retail economy for November 2017 registered an 8.49 percent improvement – one of the Valley’s best figures – over November 2016

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s retail economy in November 2017 showed one of the best improvements among the Valley’s largest cities, generating more than $1.6 million in local sales taxes for that month, an increase of 8.49 percent over November 2016, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of City Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Isael Posadas, P.E., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Julio César Carranza and Noé Sauceda, Ph.D. as Members.

The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends.

The local sales tax is also used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city.

For November 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,652,449,46 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,523,109.54 in November 2016, representing an increase of 8.49 percent

In terms of local sales tax revenue for November 2017, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $5,010,846.63, while Brownsville was second, ($3,051,584.55), Harlingen was third ($1,922,065.33), and Edinburg was fourth ($1,652,449,46).

The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825).

All data, which under the reporting system used by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, begin in November of each year and end in October of the following year.

How Key Valley Cities Performed In November 2017 and November 2016

All figures are based on sales made in November 2017 by businesses that report tax monthly, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 announced that he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $709.2 million in local sales tax allocations.

These allocations are based on sales made in November by businesses that report tax monthly.

The local sales tax data is among the latest economic barometers featured in a detailed summary provided by the state comptroller’s office.

Among its many duties, the Texas Comptroller’s office is the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer.

Based on the amount of sales taxes generated, according to the state comptroller’s office, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures:

November 2017 compared with November 2016

• McAllen: $5,010,846.63, up 4.82 percent compared with November 2016 ($4,780,133.93);
• Brownsville: $3,051,584.55, up 3.64 percent compared with November 2016 ($2,944,127.41);
• Harlingen: $1,922,065.33, up 4.80 percent compared with November 2016 ($1,833,888.30);
• Edinburg: $1,652,449.46, up 8.49 percent compared with November 2016 ($1,523,109.54);
• Pharr: $1,502,049.88, up 14.04 percent compared with November 2016 ($1,317,065.74);
• Mission: $1,196,273.98, down 8.46 percent compared with November 2016 ($1,306,876.38); and
• Weslaco: $966,664.28, up 0.18 percent compared with November 2016 ($964,918.03).

These latest figures, released by the Texas Comptroller of Public Account, follow an announcement by that state agency that for the 12-month period which just ended – from November 2016 through October 2017 – Edinburg’s retail economy produced $20,934,767.43 in local sales taxes, compared with $21,171,250.82 for November 2015 through September 2016, a decrease of 1.11 percent.

For details on local sales taxes generated in November 2017 by individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports.

STUDENT FOOD PANTRY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY AIMS TO HELP STUDENTS WITH YEAR-ROUND NEED

The season of goodwill brought with it a rise in charitable donations. But while the season has ended, the need hasn’t.

Often unexpected among people without homes and food are college students. But a 2016 report called Hunger on Campus shows 20 percent of students at four-year institutions had very low food security, which means they lack “reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.” More than half of first-generation college students were food insecure.

“There are a lot of students in need,” said Clarissa De La Fuente, Student Food Pantry coordinator at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Both the UTRGV Edinburg and Brownsville campuses  have a food pantry available to students. They were established prior the 2106 report. It’s a service many students are surprised – and happy – to hear about.

“Some of them cry,” De La Fuente said, in an interview released by university officials on Thursday, January 11, 2018.

The Edinburg Mayor, the Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city.

The coordinator said the food pantry is promoted through events, workshops, social media and word of mouth. Student Accessibility Services and housing services also refer students to the Student Food Pantry.

About 300 to 400 students use the UTRGV Food Pantry’s services each semester. But some students who are in genuine need are hesitant to take advantage of the food pantry.

“There’s a stigma. They’re afraid. They’re ashamed, more than anything, to come,” De La Fuente said.

The Hunger on Campus report shows food insecurity is not limited to a specific student profile or population. Those affected can include students who are employed, have campus meal plans, and receive financial aid.

The UTRGV Student Food Pantry coordinator said the free food at the pantry is available to any student.
“This is for students. If they have food stamps, Medicaid, government help, they can still come and get their food,” De La Fuente said.

Students are able to get 30 to 40 pounds of nonperishable items a week. They first need to fill out an enrollment form on the Student Food Pantry website and another form in person at the food pantry.
De La Fuente or one of the three attendants will provide a list of food available and pack the groceries selected.

“They have to bring their student ID and their bag (for groceries),” she said.

Popular items in the food pantry are tuna, milk and fresh vegetables. According to the Student Food Pantry coordinator, donations make up 80 percent of the food available, and 20 percent comes from the Food Bank of the RGV. They also collect fresh items, like kale, green beans and lettuce, from the community garden.

“We plant in the fall, and in spring we harvest, so this semester we’ll be able to have fresh items for them,” De La Fuente said.

Fresh items are especially sought out by students who are vegetarians. A list of the most requested items is on the Student Food Pantry website and posted at the Brownsville and Edinburg locations. One of the items on that list is also one of the simplest – water.

Anyone interested in donating can drop off items at either of the campus locations.

• The Student Food Pantry in Brownsville is in Cortez Hall, Room 224.
• The Edinburg location is University Center, Room 114.

University departments or businesses interested in helping can sign out a bin from the Student Food Pantry to use for collecting food donations. Monetary donations can be made online.

During the holiday season, the Student Food Pantry collects another item – winter coats. While they’ve stopped collecting them at this time, there are still a few coats available for distribution.

De La Fuente said she hopes to spread the word about the Student Food Pantry.

“This is a good program for the students, and many students don’t know about us,” she said.

VIDEO by MARÍA ELENA HERNÁNDEZ:

About UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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María Elena Hernández contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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