County sales tax up
County sales tax revenues took a sharp upswing last year. Income from one-quarter-cent and three-quarter-cent sales taxes rose 13.3 percent over 2003. Revenue from the one-quarter- and three-quarter-cent sales taxes totaled $6.9 million for 2004.Last year’s spike was due to the advent of Super Wal-Mart in Rifle, said Garfield County Treasurer Georgia Chamberlain.Wal-Mart “predicted it would get buyers on the weekend from Grand Junction,” she said, and that appears to be the case. The store, which offers groceries along with its usual fare, also attracts shoppers from around the county.It’s also brought more shoppers, and more tax dollars, into the county from Craig and Meeker, Chamberlain said.While Super Wal-Mart has siphoned off some tax revenues from Glenwood Springs, that has not been the case for the county.”We don’t care where we get sales tax from,” Chamberlain said, because it’s collected from every municipality and areas in between. “We get 1 percent on all sales no matter where they happen.”Tax revenues appear to be cyclical, with a double-digit increase about every four years, Chamberlain said. The last marked increase was in 2000, when revenues topped 13 percent.The greatest increase, however, came in 1997, when the county added a three-quarter-cent sales tax to the existing quarter-cent tax. That accounted for a 260 percent increase in revenues that year.The original quarter-cent tax passed in 1980 to support county libraries and public works, Chamberlain said. “That was the same era when they were building the five libraries” in the county.A three-quarter-cent tax was added in 1996.Sales tax revenues are earmarked for various county departments. The one-quarter-cent tax revenues still go toward the library and public works but in the last few years the county commissioners have given all of the revenue to the library, Chamberlain said. In 2004, that amounted to $1.7 million.The three-quarter cent tax is divided between county departments, with emergency communications receiving 25 percent; 35 percent for road and bridge; 2.5 percent for road and bridge work in the municipalities; 12.5 percent for the municipalities themselves; and 12.5 percent each for the sheriff’s office and public health 12.5 percent.Chamberlain said she also anticipates seeing how the Glenwood Meadows shopping center, which is set to open in the fall, will affect county sales tax revenues.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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