County sales tax collections up, but lodging tax collections down

Sales and use tax collections continue to climb in Mesa County, but lodging tax collections dropped after three straight months of increases compared to last year.

According to a City of Grand Junction report for February, sales and use tax collections totalled $3.68 million. That’s a 15.5 percent increase over the February 2010 report. Year-over-year city sales and use tax collections have increased for nine consecutive months.

The Mesa County report for February reflected sales tax collections of $2.41 million, an increase of nearly 6.5 percent over the report for February 2010. County sales tax collections have increased on a year-over-year basis for six straight months.

The Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) reported $56,083 in lodging tax collections in its February report, down 7.4 percent from the amount reported for the same month last year.

Since the reports lag a month behind, February sales and lodging tax reports reflect spending and bookings in January .

Over the past two months, the city has collected a total of $8.7 million in sales and use tax collections, up 12.2 percent from the same span last year.

The county has collected a total of $5.82 million over the past two months, an increase of nearly 3 percent over the same time last year.

In addition to the February report, the city released detailed reports for sales and use tax collections during the fourth quarter of 2010 and the entire calendar year.

During the fourth quarter, when retail sales are normally the most robust because of holiday shopping, sales and use tax collections were up 9.9 percent over the final three months of 2010.

For all of 2010, city sales and use tax collections totalled $46 million, a 2 percent drop from 2009 and the lowest amount since $42 million was collected in 2005. Declines were reported for a range of categories, including service stations, building materials, drug stores and furniture and appliance outlets. However, collections from automobile and camper sales increased 7.5 percent last year and grocery stores reported a modest 0.6 percent increase.

Most geographic areas of the city also experienced declines in tax collections in 2010. An exception was Mesa Mall, with a 4.7 percent increase. The mall likely benefited from the addition of the Cabela’s sporting goods store in May.

In the wake of declining tax revenues, both the city and county have reduced spending.

City employees received a 3 percent pay cut in 2010, while Mesa County instituted a wage freeze.

The city budget for 2011 totals $147.2 million, 1.2 percent lower than the 2010 budget. The county budget for 2011 totals $129.2 million, 9 percent lower than the budget originally adopted for 2010.

Both the county and city are bracing for a drop in property tax revenue next year due to declining values of commercial and residential property over the past two years.

Despite a one-month decline in lodging tax collections, local tourism officials hope 2011 will be better than 2010.

The Great Race, a car race from New York to Paris, will stop in Gateway and the Colorado National Monument in April. The race joins a list of local events that also includes the Junior College Baseball World Series, Country Jam, Rock Jam and Colorado Mountain Winefest.

According to the VCB, AAA has asked for more copies of a Grand Junction visitor guide to send to its outlets nationwide.