Tax collections on the rise

Phil Castle
Phil Castle

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Sales and use tax collections continue to rise in the Grand Valley, but at a slower pace that could signal a trend that continues into next year.

The overall direction for the key indicator of local retail sales remains upward, said Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the City of Grand Junction. “It’s still good to see growth.”

The city and Mesa County both reported year-over-year gains in sales and use tax collections in October based on September sales.

The city reported collecting a total of almost $4.5 million in sales and use taxes, an increase of nearly $68,000 and 1.5 percent over the same month last year. A 2.1 percent increase in sales tax collections more than offset a 7.9 percent decrease in use tax collections, a much smaller and more volatile portion of revenues for the city.

Romero said the latest year-over-year increase in sales tax revenues more closely aligns with what she expects will be a gain of between 2 percent and 2.2 percent in 2016. The city has budgeted for a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections.

For reports through October, the city has collected a total of almost $42.6 million in sales and use taxes. That’s an increase of  nearly $1.4 million and 3.3 percent over the same span last year. Sales tax collections rose 2.6 percent, while use tax collections were up 13.4 percent.

The city also released a more detailed report for sales tax collections for the third quarter. The biggest year-over-year gains by category were for motor vehicles, liquor stores and restaurants and bars.

Romero said she was concerned tax collections from the sales of general merchandise at department, grocery and warehouse stores were down six-tenths of a percent. Still, collections from miscellaneous retail sales at appliance, electronics, furniture and sporting goods stores were up 4.4 percent, a gain she called a good sign of increased discretionary spending.

Mesa County reported collected a total of more than $2.8 million  in sales and use taxes in October. That’s an increase of more than $110,000 and 4 percent over the same month last year. Sales tax collections increased 4 percent while use taxes were up 4.8 percent.

The county reported a 5.3 percent year-over-year increase in tax collections from retail sales in October with the biggest gains in the food and beverage and health and personal care categories.

While the city collects sales tax on automotive sales, the county collects use tax on auto sales. For October, automobile use tax collections were up 8.2 percent.

For reports through October, the county has collected a total of more than $27 million in sales and use taxes. That’s an increase of more than $1.4 million and 5.5 percent over the same span last year. Sales tax collections were up 5.4 percent, while use tax collections increased 7.1 percent.

The county has budgeted for a 3 percent increase in sales tax collections in 2016.