Tax collections trend upward

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Sales and use tax collections continue to increase on a year-over-year basis in the Grand Valley, although at different rates in and out of the Grand Junction city limits.

While the City of Grand Junction reported a 1 percent increase in sales and use tax collections in April, Mesa County reported a 4.7 percent increase.

Sales tax collections serve not only as source of revenue for local governments, but also as a key indicator of retail sales and economic conditions.

The city reported collecting a total of just over $4.3 million in sales and use taxes in April. Sales tax collections in the city actually slipped two-tenths of a percent compared to collections reported for the same month last year. But a 24.7 percent increase in the more volatile use tax collections and 2.4 percent gain in county sales tax collections shared with the city resulted in a combined increase of about $45,000. April collections reflect March sales.

Mesa County reported collecting nearly $2.67 million in sales and use taxes in April. A 6.1 percent increase in sales tax collections more than offset a 7.1 percent decrease in use tax collections. The net result was almost 120,000 in additional collections compared  to the same month last year.

Jodi Romero, financial operations director for the city, attributed the slight dip in sales tax collections to what was an especially strong month at this time last year for vehicle and energy industry sales. Sales tax collections from department, furniture and home improvement stores as well as restaurants all showed growth over the last year, though, offering a broader measure of improving economic conditions, Romero said.

Eleanor Thomas, budget manager for Mesa County, said sales tax collections from restaurants and hotels as well as the oil, natural gas and mining sector were at their highest levels since before 2009. Collections on retail sales were slightly higher than 2014.

The difference in tax collections between the city and county could be attributed to sales by oil and natural gas companies operating outside city limits, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, year-to-date sales and use tax collections continue to trend upward.

For reports for the first four months of 2015, the city collected a total of almost $16.7 million. That’s an increase of nearly $534,000 and 3.3 percent over the same span in 2014.

Mesa County reported year-to-date collections of almost $10.4 million. That’s an increase of about $688,000 and 7.1 percent over the same period last year.

The city has budgeted for a 3 percent increase in sales tax collections in 2015, while the county has budgeted for a 2 percent gain.