Increasing sales tax collections offer encouragement

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle The Business Times

While two months don’t constitute a trend, increasing sales tax collections in the Grand Valley early in 2015 bode well for improving economic conditions this year.

“It’s hard to say it’s a trend, but it certainly looks encouraging,” said Eleanor Thomas, Mesa County budget manager.

Jodi Romero, financial operations for the City of Grand Junction, agreed. “I think it’s good.”

The city reported a 6.5 percent increase in year-over-year sales and use tax collections in February. The county reported an even larger proportional gain at 10 percent for a second consecutive month of double-digit gains. Since sales tax reports lag a month behind, February reports reflect January sales.

Numbers in the February reports are higher in part because of a dip in collections for the month last year. But the latest numbers also reflect increased sales.

The city reported collecting a total of nearly $3.7 million in sales and use taxes in February with a 4.6 percent gain in year-over-year sales tax collections and a 37.4 percent increase in the more volatile use tax collections.

For the first two months of 2015, city sales and use tax collections topped $8.8 million, a 3.6 percent increase over the same span in 2014.

Romero said sales have increased for nearly all business categories, with the largest gains in motor vehicles, restaurants and bars and construction. Meanwhile, the value of  residential and commercial construction also has increased in each of the last three years, she said.

Those indicators and others signal improving conditions, Romero said. “I think they’re all positive signs.”

Romero said the indicators also make her more comfortable about the 3 percent increase in city sales tax revenues budgeted for 2015.

Mesa County reported collecting a total of almost $2.4 million in sales and use tax collections in February with a 10.1 percent increase in year-over-year sales tax collections and 8.9 percent gain in use tax collections.

For the first two months of 2015, sales and use tax collections for the county totaled nearly $5.5 million. That’s a 10.6 percent increase over the same span in 2014.

Thomas also reported increased sales in most categories. “It really was across the board — retail, auto, all of the categories.”

Given the latest numbers, Mesa County is off to its best year for tax collections since 2009, Thomas said. “I hope it continues.”

The county has budgeted for a 2 percent gain in sales tax collections for 2015.