April sales tax figures for Rifle healthier | PostIndependent.com

April sales tax figures for Rifle healthier

Total sales, use, and lodging tax revenues in Rifle for the first four months of the year, through April 30, was $2.7 million, a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s $2.6 million, according to city figures.

Sales tax revenues were $2.4 million and 2 percent higher than the previous year’s $2.3 million. Building and motor vehicle use tax revenues were $282,000, a 36 percent increase from the previous year’s $208,000.

Lodging tax revenues were more than $28,000 and 6 percent lower than last year’s $30,000.

Rifle Finance Director Charles Kelty answered four questions by email about the April numbers:

1) How would you characterize this month’s revenues? Can you identify any factors that led to this outcome?

Overall, I was pleased there was a 5 percent increase in the sales, use and lodging tax revenues. Sales tax revenues increased 2 percent year-to-date.

The following categories experienced increases during April: Car parts and sales 3 percent; food 15 percent; general retail 2 percent; oil and gas 28 percent; leasing 18 percent; and utilities 15 percent. The following categories experienced decreases during the month: Bars and restaurants 1 percent; hardware 57 percent; liquor stores 2 percent; and motels 14 percent. Basically, April was similar to March with the exception of the food category. I was pleasantly surprised to see a 15 percent increase in the food category. I suspect part of this increase may be due to the new City Market gas station. Lower gas prices could be encouraging residents to shop locally.

Building and motor vehicle use taxes increased 36 percent year-to-date. Unfortunately, lodging taxes decreased 6 percent from the same period from last year.

2) Did any categories surprise you? If so, explain.

The main surprise was the food category. As mentioned previously, lower gas prices may be encouraging city and county residents to do more of their shopping locally. I am also surprised motel sales tax and motel lodging tax revenues continue to decline. The decline of the oil and gas industry continues to hurt the lodging industry.

3) Where does this leave the city in terms of revenue received vs. budgeted? Where do expenses stand (include a few numbers)?

Sales and use tax revenues help fund services provided by the general, street improvement, and parks and recreation funds. Below are a few excerpts for the April 2014 financial report I provided City Council earlier this month:

General fund revenues – Total revenues are more than $2.5 million, compared to the prior year’s $2.3 million and nearly $260,000 and 11 percent higher. General fund expenditures – Total expenditures are $2.5 million, compared to last year’s $2.4 million and $110,000, or 5 percent, higher.

Parks & recreation fund revenues – Total revenues are almost $770,000, compared to last year’s $743,000 and about $27,000 and 4 percent lower. Expenditures are $454,000, compared to the prior year’s $559,000 and $104,000 and 19 percent less.

Additionally, the street improvement fund revenues were over $467,000, compared to the prior year’s $443,000 and close to $25,000 and 6 percent higher. Expenditures were $76,000, compared to last year’s $156,000 and $79,000 and 51 percent less.

4) Any thoughts on next month? How’s your crystal ball?

Frankly, I am anticipating May sales taxes coming in higher than last year. Of course, I won’t have those figures until the end of June, but based on what I saw in April, it looks like May could be a good month. Unfortunately, I am not expecting to see any kind of increase in the lodging industry, but I’m hopeful this summer will be a good tourist season, especially since the New Ute Events Center is officially open for business.

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