Phil Castle, The Business Times
Bolstered in part by holiday business, sales tax collections continue to increase in Grand Junction and Mesa County.
The City of Grand Junction reported a 4.1 percent increase in January collections compared to the same month last year. Mesa County reported a 1.9 percent increase in year-over-year collections.
The January numbers are particularly important not only in offering a measure of retail sales activity during the holiday season, but also in representing what’s usually the biggest single month of collections for the year.
“Across the board, we are pretty happy with the figures,” said Elizabeth Tice-Janda, revenue supervisor for the City of Grand Junction.
Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County, agreed. “We’re happy we’re positive.”
The City of Grand Junction reported collecting a little more than $5 million in sales and use tax collections in January. With a 4.1 percent increase in sales tax collections and 29.3 percent gain in use tax collections, combined collections were up nearly $253,000, or 5.3 percent over the same month last year.
Since January collections reflect December sales, Tice-Janda said.
“Christmas was definitely better in 2013 than 2012.”
Overall collections reported in January 2014 were higher not only than those for January 2013, but also the same months in 2011 and 2010. The latest numbers came in slightly lower than 2012, however.
With four consecutive months of year-over-year increases in sales tax collections, Tice-Janda said she’s hopeful the trend will continue well into 2014. But the more volatile use tax collections, a measure of activity in the energy and construction sectors, remains a “wild card,”
The city has projected no gains in sales and use tax collections in its 2014 budget. For 2013, the city reported collecting a total of a little more than $48 million in sales and use tax collections, a decline of 2.7 percent from 2012.
Mesa County reported collecting a total of almost $2.57 million in sales taxes for its capital improvement and general funds during January. That’s about $49,000, or 1.9 percent, more than the same month last year. Nearly $975,000 in additional sales tax collections were distributed to cities and towns in Mesa County.
Thomas attributed the gain to increased sales of automobiles as well as increases in the manufacturing and utility sectors. But retail sales remained flat, she added.
Like Tice-Janda, Thomas said she hopes four straight months of year-over-year increases in sales tax collections for the county represent the start of a trend. But county officials aren’t yet ready to revise upward their projections for no gain in 2014. “Hopefully, this is a trend. But it’s been so volatile the past year and a half,” she said.
For 2013, the county collected a total of $26.8 million in sales taxes for its capital improvement and general funds. That’s three-tenths of a percent more than in 2012.