Sales tax collections up, but still lag behind 2012

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Sales tax collections in the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County have increased for two straight months.

But given what was previously a long downward trend, government administrators hope only that collections in 2013 match those in 2012 by the end of this year.

“We’re hoping for flat,” said Elizabeth Tice-Janda, revenue supervisor for the City of Grand Junction.

According to the July report from the city, sales tax collections totaled more than $4.1 million, an increase of seven-tenths of a percent over the same month last year.

With an almost 53 percent decrease in use tax collections, however, combined sales and use tax collections came only to about $4.3 million, a 3.1 percent decline from July 2012.

Mesa County reported collecting a total of nearly $2.4 million in sales taxes for its capital improvement and general funds, a 1.47 percent increase over what was reported in July 2012.

Because reports lag a month behind collections, July reports reflect June sales.

“I’m not sure where it’s going to go, but at least we’ve had two months of positive growth. So that’s encouraging,” said Marcia Arnhold, Mesa County finance director.

Combined city sales and use tax collections have dropped on a year-over-year basis in 10 out of the previous 12 months.

For reports covering the first seven months of 2013, the city collected a total of $28 million in sales and use taxes. That’s 3.3 percent less than what was collected during the same span in 2012 and 5.7 percent less than what initially was budgeted.

Tice-Janda said she remains hopeful increases in residential and commercial construction will result in increases in sales and use tax collections during the second half of 2013.

A series of events scheduled for the Grand Valley — along with a general increase in tourism — also could bolster sales tax collections, she said. “That brings additional dollars into the community.”

Lodging tax collections, a measure of hotel and motel stays, increased on a year-over-year basis in July, the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau reported.

For Mesa County, the latest year-over-year increase in sales tax collections was only the third in the last 13 months.

For reports through the first seven months of 2013, the county collected a combined $15.5 million for its capital improvement and general funds. That’s a nearly 2.7 percent decline from the same span in 2012.

Arnhold calculated it will take a 3.9 percent increase in sales tax collections over the next five months for total collections for the 2013 to match those in 2012.