County sales tax revenues show signs of life

Sales-tax revenues showed a sign of life in February, enough for Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis to draw some attention to it, but not enough to declare the county’s economy on the path to recovery.

“It’s kind of like doing CPR for a while and then getting one pulse,” McInnis said Monday.

That pulse was a 1.6 percent positive blip in February sales tax, not enough to reverse a drop of nearly 5 percent in January as measured against the same month a year before, but still a hint of life, McInnis said.

Sales taxes generated $1.98 million in January 2017, nearly 5 percent below the $2.08 million that flowed into county coffers in January 2016.

February’s numbers showed a slight rebound, from $2.03 million in 2016 to $2.07 million in 2017.

The lag in sales tax revenues was a driving factor in the county’s decision to have department heads limit spending to 95 percent of budget this year, prompting layoffs and reductions of hours for some employees.

The county approved a $57 million general fund budget for 2017.

Even with the February blip in revenues, sales-tax revenues remain 4.9 percent below budget and 1.5 percent below the same year-to-date period last year.

Factoring in use taxes does little to brighten the county’s financial picture, even though February’s receipts showed a 3.2 percent increase, from $181,216 in 2016 to $186,983 in 2017.

Those revenues are more than 20 percent below budget and 2.6 percent behind the same year-to-date period of 2016.

Included in the lagging sales-tax revenues is a 31 percent drop — or $150,000 — in telecommunications sales taxes, which are included in such things as cellphone bills.

The state collects that tax and passes it to the county and county officials have sought information from the state about the shortfall, said Scott Stewart, the county’s chief financial officer.

The county also has begun to receive sales-tax revenues for online sales from Amazon, Stewart said.


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