More spending on retail, food means more funds for major capital projects in Rifle
Rising revenues derived from city taxes in Rifle are sort of like a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, jumbo white eggs are nearly $6 a carton and locals continue to watch their paychecks drain into their gas tanks at the pump.
On the other hand, inflation rates are actually pumping more money into city coffers. And with this unexpected bump comes more money to support some pretty gigantic capital projects for Rifle.
They include creating a traffic-light intersection at the corner of Whiteriver Avenue and U.S. Highway 6, as well as building an entirely new park-n-ride area in town.
Rifle Finance Director Scott Rust reported to City Council on March 1 that sales tax collections increased by 9.07% between 2021-2022. The city only estimated a 4% increase in collections over this timeframe — which means the actual collections increase shot over that estimation by 5.07%. Now, the city has about an additional $3.08 million to work with in its budget and about $46.2 million for overall operations.
“We continue to increase and put funds away each and every year as we have over the past five years,” Rust said.
Two areas in which the city has seen its greatest tax revenue increases between 2021-2022 are general retail and food. Revenues from general retail in Rifle increased from about $5.39 million-$6.02 million over this timeframe — that’s more than a $630,000 bump. For food, it increased from about $1.84 million-$2.16 million — that’s more than a $312,800 bump.
City Manager Tommy Klein said, however, once inflation is taken into account, the city’s sales tax collections are essentially close to being flat.
“We think that at a minimum we’ll continue to track with inflation,” he said on Friday.
Another fairly significant increase in tax collections between 2021-22 stems from car parts and sales, Klein said. Supply chain issues, which have plagued the auto industry through and after COVID-19, are somewhat starting to improve.
One final notable increase in collections the city has seen over the past fiscal year falls on oil and gas. Tax revenue from the industry increased from $177,996 to $284,375 — a $106,379 difference.
The supplemental funds are set to join at least three substantial grants the city has applied for and obtained for the park-n-ride and traffic light intersection projects. This includes a $500,000 Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant for the interaction and part of a $24.2 million grant from the federal government, called Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, to relocate and construct a new park-n-ride in Rifle.
“We believe that, if all goes well, we’ll begin the intersection project this year,” Klein said. “And for the park-n-ride, we hope optimistically to start at the end of this year.”
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