Mesa County tax collections surge

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Mesa County tax collections surged in March because of continued strong sales as well as payments for past sales.

The county collected a total of nearly $2.8 million in sales and use taxes, a 23.7 percent increase over what was collected during the same month last year.

The proportional year-over-year gain was the largest since 2011 and reminiscent of big gains in 2007, said Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County.

The gain is also “misleading,” Thomas said, because it reflects in part adjustments based on state audits.

Sales tax collections rose more than $494,000, or 23.9 percent. Use tax collections, most from the sales of automobiles purchased outside Mesa County and used in the county, increased nearly $39,000,  or 20.6 percent.

Thomas said additional taxes sometimes are collected as a result of state audits, some involving sales and payments going back for years. For March, sales tax collections from utilities, for example, increased nearly $192,000 over the same month last year — an almost 380 percent spike.

Not counting audit adjustments, Thomas estimated tax collections rose 11 percent, a gain she said was “still high.”

Tax collections from the retail sector increased 13 percent, with increased sales of clothing and health and personal care items. Tax collections also increased on sales of home improvement supplies as well as sales in the oil and natural gas sector.

For the first quarter of 2018, Mesa County collected a total of nearly $8.4 million in sales and use taxes. That’s an increase of more than $1 million and 14.9 percent over the first quarter of 2017. Sales tax collections rose 14.3 percent. Use tax collections rose 22.1 percent.

The county initially projected a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections for 2018.