Mesa County sales tax collections see largest increase in 37 months

City of Grand Junction reports fifth consecutive monthly increase in collections

If sales tax collections are any indication of economic recovery in Mesa County, such a recovery seems to be getting stronger as the days run their course for 2010. The November sales tax report indicates Mesa County’s collections were up 7.59 percent over the report for November, 2009. That marks the largest year-to-year percentage increase since the report of December, 2007, when collections were up a whopping 38.75 percent over December, 2006.

As reports lag one month behind collections at local businesses, the December haul in 2007 represented spending in November, 2007. The latest report reflects consumer spending in October, 2010. Reports covering the holiday season will be released in the first quarter of 2011.

The county reports $2.90 million in its November report, marking the fourth consecutive month of year-to-year increases over the same months in 2009. The county report includes dollars it shares with the municipalities of Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade.

Meanwhile, the City of Grand Junction released its fifth consecutive monthly report that shows a year-over-year increase compared to 2009. The city reported $3.97 million in sales and use tax collections in its November report, reflecting consumer spending in October. That’s a 12.15 percent increase over the report for November of last year. The city figures include the funds it receives from Mesa County’s collections.

Despite the recent increases in tax collections, the city and county are lagging behind last year’s total through the first 11 months of this year. For Mesa County government, collections for the January-November period are $30.58 million, or 7.49 percent below last year’s total.

The county is on track to collect a little more than $31 million in sales taxes for the year, the lowest level since it counted $30.19 million in 2004. In 2005, collections were $33.66 million as a natural gas boom was taking hold in western Colorado and the national and regional economies were in much better shape than they are in the waning days of 2010.

The city reports $42.05 million through the first 11 months of this year—3.67 percent below the total for the same period in 2009.

Both government entities have trimmed spending during a softer economy over the past 22 months. The city instituted a 3 percent pay cut for all employees in 2010, while the county froze employee wages. Both also reduced the number of full-time equivalent employees during that span.

Mesa County Commissioners recently adopted a $129.21 million budget for 2011, a figure that’s about 9 percent lower than the budget adopted for 2010. The City of Grand Junction’s budget for next year is $147.2 million, higher than the budget adopted for 2010. The 2010 budget was reduced by 1.2 percent during the year as reductions were instituted by city managers.