Grand Valley sales and use tax collections rebound

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Sales and use tax collections continue to rebound in the Grand Valley, bolstered in part by increased activity in the construction, energy and tourism sectors.

The City of Grand Junction reported that combined sales and use tax collections in June increased 10.1 percent over the same month last year. Mesa County reported an even larger proportional gain at 13.5 percent. June tax collections reflect May sales.

Sales and use tax collections for both the city and county have increased on a year-over-year basis for three consecutive months. Despite a downturn at the beginning of the year, tax collections for 2017 now outpace those for 2016.

“I think, overall, we’re doing very well,” said Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County.

Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the City of Grand Junction, also said she was pleased with the latest tax collection numbers. “I think they’re good.”

The city reported collecting a total of nearly $4.4 million in sales and use taxes in June. That’s an increase of $402,000 over what was collected during the same month last year. Sales tax collections increased 9.1 percent. Use tax collections, a smaller and more volatile portion of revenue, jumped nearly 67 percent on increased sales in the energy and utility sectors.

Romero said there were increased sales for all categories of businesses, but the gains were strongest in motor vehicles and building materials. She attributed the gains to an increased activity in the construction, energy and tourism sectors.

On a broader level, though, Romero said she senses a more upbeat economic outlook. “I think there’s an increased level of consumer confidence.”

Mesa County reported collecting a total of almost $2.9 million in sales and use taxes in June. That’s an increase of $348,000 over the same month last year. Sales tax collections rose 9.9 percent, while use tax collections jumped 34.3 percent on automobile sales outside the county.

Tax collections on retail sales increased 6.3 percent. Tax collections also rose in the energy and telecommunications sectors as well as the home improvement and hospitality categories. A 35.6 percent increase in use tax collections on automobile sales outside the county more than offset a 6.5 percent decline in use tax collections on building materials purchased outside the county.

Thomas said she was especially pleased to see an increase in tax collections on retail sales, the largest single category for the county. The increase in tax collections in the oil and natural gas sector corresponds with more drilling activity, she said.

As more people find employment, they have more money to spend and sales tax collections increase, Thomas said.

For the first half of 2017, the City of Grand Junction reported $25.3 million in sales and use tax collections. That’s an increase of more than $900,000 and 3.7 percent over the first half of 2016. Sales tax collections rose  3.8 percent, while use tax collections increased 10.3 percent.

The city hasn’t yet changed what’s budgeted as no increase in sales tax revenue for 2017, Romero said. Neither have budgeted expenses changed. If additional revenues come in, the Grand Junction City Council can elect to use them or leave them in the fund balance for 2018, she said.

Mesa County reported collecting a total of more than $15.6 million in sales and use tax during the first half of 2017. That’s an increase of almost $617,000 and 4.1 percent. Both sales and use tax collections rose 4.1 percent.

The county has projected a half-percent increase in sales tax collections for 2017 over 2016, although Thomas said she’s pleased with the upward trend. “I hope it continues.”