Phil Castle, The Business Times
Combined sales and use tax collections have declined for a third straight month in the Grand Valley.
Mesa County reported a 1.8 percent decline in sales and use tax collections for March compared to the same month last year. The City of Grand Junction reported a 2.6 percent decline.
“This is not how I hoped we would start the year,” said Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the city.
Lagging tax collections continue to reflect slowing in the energy sector related to low commodity prices as well as lower auto sales. Collections in some categories have increased, however.
“There are some bright spots and not-so-bright spots,” said Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County.
Mesa County reported collecting $2.2 million in sales and use taxes in March. That’s a decrease of about $41,000 and 1.8 percent from the same month last year. March collections reflect February sales.
County sales tax collections actually edged up three-tenths of a percent. But that gain was more than offset by a 21 percent decline in use tax collections.
County sales tax collections from the oil and natural gas industry sector in March were down 75.2 percent. Automobile use tax collections were down 21.4 percent.
County tax collections from retail sales increased 2.8 percent in March, while collections from hotel and restaurant sales were up 4 percent.
For the first quarter of 2016, Mesa County collected a total of about $7.4 million in sales and use taxes. That’s a decrease of nearly $308,000 and 4 percent from the first quarter of 2015. Sales tax collections fell 2.1 percent, while use tax collections dropped 21 percent.
The City of Grand Junction reported collecting a total of $3.5 million in sales and use taxes in March. That’s a decrease of about $93,000 and 2.6 percent from the same month last year. Sales tax collections edged down seven-tenths of a percent. Use tax collections — a far smaller, but more volatile, portion of city revenues — dropped nearly 43 percent.
Romero said there were decreases in tax collections in most industry categories.
For the first quarter of 2016, the city reported collecting a total of about $12.3 million in sales and use taxes. That’s a decrease of about $75,000 and six-tenths of a percent from the first quarter of 2015. Sales tax collections increased eight-tenths of a percent, but were more than offset by a 30.4 percent decrease in use tax collections.
The city has budgeted for a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections this year. Romero said it might be necessary to amend the budget, but it’s still too early to tell.