County’s sales tax revenue rises again

Mesa County rang up a third-straight month of increasing sales tax revenues in June, but officials say they want to see more growth before considering additional revenues as anything more than an aberration.

The county share of its 2 percent sales tax jumped 9.9 percent in June over the same month in 2016, a growth spurt that County Administrator Frank Whidden said he was “ecstatic” to see.

Still, “I have given the direction that we will not revise upward any budgets until we have seen at least six months of consecutive sales tax growth,” Whidden said in an email.

June’s revenues marked the third-straight month of revenue growth from the sales tax, which is split evenly with the county receiving half and the other half being divided among the county’s municipalities.

Total retail sales — which make up the largest single portion of sales-tax revenues — has been up for the last three months: 5.9 percent in April; 7.9 percent in May; and 6.3 percent in June.

Other contributing industry sectors, such as taxes on vehicle sales, have been inconsistent, according to county records.

In raw numbers, the county received nearly $2.6 million in June, up more than $200,000 from the $2.35 million in June 2016.

The county’s $57 million general fund budget anticipated that the county would have to dip into dwindling reserves.

June’s revenue performance pushes the total so far this year slightly ahead, 1.5 percent, of budget projections and 4.1 percent ahead of the prior year’s total. While previous years have seen sharp reversals in otherwise encouraging trends, Whidden said the current trends are encouraging.

“I believe we are seeing real economic development in Mesa County,” he said, “not just sales tax but building permits, residential housing prices, and commercial property prices are also trending positive.”

County officials are watching sales-tax revenues both in terms of the effects on the current year’s budget as well as the county’s plans to ask voters in November to increase the sales tax to 2.37 percent, with the 0.37 percent portion being mostly devoted to the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices.


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