Phil Castle, The Business Times
Sales and use tax collections have declined again in the Grand Valley, although part of the latest downturn reflects large year-over-year drops in collections from the telecommunications industry.
The City of Grand Junction reported a 2.1 percent decline in combined sales and use tax collections in February compared to the same month last year. Mesa County reported an even larger drop at 4.1 percent. A separate measure of lodging tax collections in Grand Junction was down 3 percent. February collections reflect January sales.
The city reported collecting a total of nearly $3.54 million in sales and use taxes. Use tax collections increased about $2,000 or about 1.7 percent. The gain was more than offset, though, by a drop in sales tax collections of $71,348 or 2.5 percent.
Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the City of Grand Junction, said she actually was encouraged by some of the numbers for February with year-over-year increases in sales tax collections on building materials, motor vehicles and restaurant meals as well as merchandise sold at department and warehouse stores.Those are categories that serve as indicators for consumer confidence and spending trends, Romero said.
At the same time, though, there was a large drop in sales tax collections in the telecommunicaitons industry from two businesses that reported larger sales in January of last year than this year, she said.
Removing that difference from the overall numbers for sales tax collections turns a 2.5 percent decrease into a 3 percent increase, Romero said.
For the first two months of 2017, the City of Grand Junction reported collecting a total of more than $8.74 million in sales and use tax collections. That’s nearly $80,000 or nine-tenths of a percent less than the same span in 2016. Sales tax collections edged down a half percent, while use tax collections fell 2.7 percent.
City sales tax collections are projected to remain flat for 2017, although Romero said she hopes that forecast proves conservative.
County sales tax collections from other industries were mixed in February, with gains in the home improvement, oil and gas and wholesale categories.
Like the city, though, Mesa County reported a drop in collections from the telecommunications industry — nearly $68,000 or 37.5 percent compared to the same month last year.
That accounted for two-thirds of the $100,000 decline in year-over-year sales tax collections for February.
For the first two months of 2017, the county collected a total of about
$5 million in sales and use taxes. That’s nearly $160,000 or 3.1 percent less than what was collected during the same period in 2016. Sales tax collections fell 2.9 percent, while use tax collections dropped 5 percent.
Eleanor Thomas, county budget manager, said she plans to look into the differences.
Meanwhile, though, Thomas said she hopes what’s been a year-long downward trend in tax collections that has forced budget cuts, will soon change. “Hopefully, some things will turn around.”
County sales tax collections were projected to rise a half a percent in 2017 over what was collected in 2016.
The Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau reported that $60,802 in lodging taxes were collected in February. That’s $1,895 or 3 percent less than what was collected for the same month last year. February collections reflect hotel and motel stays during January.
For the first two months of 2017, $127,686 in lodging taxes were collected. That’s $2,580 or 2 percent less than the same span in 2016.
For February, the VCB also reported year-over-year declines in the number of visits to the visitor center and the VCB website as well as the number of requests for visitor guides.