Sales tax collections climb to higher levels

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A strong finish helped push sales tax collections in the Grand Valley to higher levels in 2014.

The upward trend is expected to continue in 2015, which bodes well for local retailers.

“We’re happy. All the signs are going in the right direction now for sure,” said Mesa County Administrator Frank Whidden.

Mesa County reported a 2.6 percent increase in sales and use tax collections in 2014 over 2013. At 2.7 percent, the increase was slightly larger for the City of Grand Junction.

“I think it’s a good reaffirmation moving forward,” said Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the city.

The county reported collecting a total of $2.4 million in sales and use taxes in December. That’s an increase of nearly $35,000 and 1.4 percent over the same month last year.

The city reported collecting a total of $4 million in sales and use tax collections, up $118,000 and 3 percent over December 2013.

Because sales tax reports lag a month behind, December reports reflect November sales and only part of the holiday shopping season. January reports will reflect December sales.

The latest numbers brought total sales and use tax collections for Mesa County in 2014 to $30.6 million. That’s an increase of more than $775,000 and 2.6 percent over 2013. Combined sales and use tax collections for the county have increased in each of the last five years.

Sales and use tax collections totaled $49.3 million for the city in 2014. That’s an increase of $1.3 million and 2.7 percent over 2013, although slightly below 2012.

Sales tax collections alone totaled $41.4 million in 2014, the highest level since 2008. More volatile use tax collections — a reflection of energy development, construction and utility work — totaled $1.8 million in 2014, the lowest level since 2010.

Romero said sales during the fourth quarter of 2014 were especially strong for  automobiles and construction materials as well as general merchandise.

Lower gasoline prices could contribute to increased spending for other goods, Whidden and Romero said.

Sales tax collections are expected to continue to increase in 2015 with a 2 percent gain projected for the Mesa County budget, Whidden said.

The city has forecast a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenues in the $143 million budget approved by the Grand Junction City Council in December.