Grand Valley tax collections rebound

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Tax collections have rebounded in the Grand Valley to their highest levels since before the recession.

Although the proportional gains could be smaller, official expect the trend to continue.

“I think we’re seeing a much improved economy,” said Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County.

Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the City of Grand Junction, agreed. “We’ve  finally turned the corner.”

Counting gains in December, Mesa County reported an 8.3 percent increase in combined sales and use tax collections for 2017 over 2016. The City of Grand Junction reported a 6.8 percent increase. Year-end totals for tax collections for the county and city were the highest since 2008.

Meanwhile, lodging tax collections in Grand Junction — a measure of hotel and motel stays — increased for December and 2017.

Mesa County reported collecting a total of nearly $2.8 million in sales and use taxes in December. That’s an increase of more than $290,000 and 11.7 percent over the same month in 2016.

Sales tax collections rose 10.8 percent on increases in the retail sector as well as the hotel and restaurant categories.

A 21.1 percent gain in use tax collections reflected increased sales of automobiles purchased outside the county, but used in the county.

The City of Grand Junction reported collecting a total of more than $4.3 million in sales and use taxes in December. That’s an increase of almost $315,000 and 7.8 percent over the same month in 2016. A 9.8 percent increase in sales tax collections more than offset a 34.8 percent decrease in use tax collections, a far smaller and more volatile portion of revenues for the city.

Romero said each of the top five categories that cumulatively account for about 75 percent of sales tax collections showed growth. Collections on sales of automobiles increased 14.9 percent, while collections on sales of construction materials rose 13.9 percent, she said.

December collections reflect November sales. Sales during December, including those for the holiday shopping season, will show up in January collections that will be reported in February.

The December numbers brought year-end sales and use tax collections for Mesa County to almost $33.3 million in 2017. That’s an increase of almost 2.6 million and 8.3 percent over 2016. Sales tax collections rose 7.9 percent, while use tax collections were up 12.3 percent.

Tax collections increased 4.3 percent on retail sales and 9.7 percent for other industry categories with the biggest gains in the auto and home improvement categories. Gains in the oil and natural gas and telecommunications sectors offset what were decreases the year before, Thomas said.

For the City of Grand Junction, combined sales and use tax collections totaled almost $52.9 million for 2017. That’s an increase of nearly $3.4 million and 6.8 percent over 2016. Sales tax collections rose 6.6 percent, while use tax collections jumped 14.9 percent.

Romero said the numbers reflect increasing consumer confidence in the local and national economies as well as improving labor conditions.

Thomas and Romero said they expect sales tax collections to continue to trend upward in 2018, although projected increases for the budgets remain conservative at 2 percent for the county and 1 percent for the city.

The rate of sales tax rose 0.37 percent at the beginning of January after Mesa County voters approved in November a ballot measure increasing funding for public safety. That brings the total sales tax rate to 5.27 percent in Mesa County and 8.02 percent in the City of Grand Junction.

Meanwhile, lodging tax collections also continued to increase in Grand Junction during 2017.

For December, $79,872 was collected. That’s an increase of $4,830 and 6.4 percent over the same month in 2016. December collections reflect hotel and motel stays in November.

The December numbers brought the year-end total in lodging tax collections for 2017 to almost $1.5 million. That’s an increase of $44,185 and 3.1 percent over 2016.