Official: Rising sales tax collections reflect improving economy

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Tax collections reflect increasing sales in the Grand Valley and, in turn, an improving economy.

“I think, overall, the economy seems to be doing better,” said Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County.

The county reported an 8.9 percent increase in sales and use tax collections in February compared to the same month last year. The City of Grand Junction reported an even bigger gain at 14 percent.

Lodging tax collections — a measure of hotel and motel stays — rose 2.9 percent in Grand Junction.

February collections reflect January sales.

Mesa County reported collecting a total of nearly $2.4 million in sales and use tax collections in February, an increase of almost $194,000 over what was collected for the same month a year ago. Sales tax collections rose 7.8 percent. Use tax collections on the sale of vehicles and building materials purchased outside the county, but used in the county increased 18.5 percent.

The county reported increased sales tax collections for automobiles, home improvement supplies, hotel stays and restaurant meals. Collections from the oil and natural gas sector rose 69.1 percent.

Tax collections on retail sales slipped 2.8 percent on a drop in the category for other retail, which Thomas said includes department stores. That decrease reflects collections not only for February, also but prior periods, she said, and likely will rebound for March.

For the city, combined sales and use tax collections topped $4 million for February. That’s an increase of more than $495,000 over the same month last year. A 15.3 percent increase in sales tax collections more than offset a 5.5 percent a 5.5 percent decrease in use tax collections, a smaller and more volatile portion of revenue for the city that reflects activity in the energy and construction sectors.

For the first two months of 2018, sales and use tax collections for Mesa County totaled nearly $5.6 million. That’s an increase of $556,000 and 11 percent over the same two-month span in 2017. Sales tax collections rose 10 percent, Use tax collections increased 22.8 percent on the sales of automobiles.

Thomas said increasing tax collections reflect improving economic and labor conditions as well as anecdotal reports of more people moving to the Grand Valley.

Mesa County has projected a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections for 2018 —  a forecast Thomas said she expects will be exceeded, although it’s too early to know for sure.

For the City of Grand Junction, sales and use tax collections for the first two months of 2018 totaled nearly $9.6 million. That’s an increase of almost $815,000 and 9.3 percent over the same span in 2017. Sales tax collections rose 9.5 percent, while use tax collections rose 14.8 percent.

The city budget for 2018 is based on what’s projected as a 1 percent increase in sales tax collections.

Lodging tax collections in Grand Junction totaled $64,503 in February. That’s a gain of $1,806 over the same month last year.

For January and February, lodging tax collections came to $136,886. That’s an increase of $6,620 and 5.1 percent over the same span in 2017.