DALLAS — Local governments in Texas are keeping their belts tight as sales tax revenue continues to fall sharply.

Sales tax revenue was down 12.8% statewide in October, the eighth straight month of decline compared to the same month in 2008, said Comptroller Susan Combs.

“Declining sales tax collections, which began in February, have continued with October’s collections,” Combs said. “Tax collections are down in major sectors of the economy, including retail trade, oil and natural gas and construction.”

Combs sent cities $342.6 million in sales tax allocations, down 8.3% compared to November 2008. So far this year, city sales tax allocations are down 4.2% compared to the same time period last year. Houston’s sales tax revenues are down 4.82% for October and 1.72% for the year. Dallas’ are down 11.62% for the month and 9.82% for the year. San Antonio’s sales taxes have fallen 7.28% for October and 5.37% for the year.

Counties received November sales tax allocations of $28.2 million, down 14.5% compared to a year ago. For the calendar year-to-date, county sales tax allocations are running 3.7% below 2008 revenues. Travis County, which includes Austin, saw revenues tumble 8.71% in October, down 9.37% for the year to date.

The 153 special-purpose taxing districts around the state received $19.4 million in sales tax, down 5.2% compared to last November.

Ten local transit systems received $110.4 million in November sales tax rebates, down 8.7% compared to a year ago. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority, which is in the midst of a major expansion of its light-rail system, saw its sales taxes fall 10.79% for the month. Sales tax revenues are down 9.71% for the year. Houston’s Metro Transit Authority is faring better, down 6.36% for the month and 1.83% for the year.

November sales tax allocations to local governments represent September sales reported to the comptroller in October by monthly tax filers and July, August, and September sales reported to the comptroller in October by quarterly tax filers.

Local governments in Texas rely heavily on sales and property tax revenue, since no cities or counties levy income taxes. The state also does not impose an income tax.

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