Final 2013 sales tax numbers disappoint Rifle officials |

Final 2013 sales tax numbers disappoint Rifle officials

Rifle businesses, city administrators and elected officials all likely have the same wish as 2014 proceeds: more spending by customers to help local businesses, which would mean more revenue for city government.

Last year ended with a 4 percent drop in Rifle’s sales tax revenue, which supplies the vast majority of the city’s annual operating budget and helps indicate how local businesses are faring.

City Finance Director Charles Kelty said while 2013 sales tax revenues were $7.6 million and 17 percent higher than the previous year’s $6.5 million, once the revenue from the voter-approved 3/4 cent sales tax to help fund the new $25 million water treatment plant is removed, the city received four percent less sales tax than 2012.

“I was really hoping December (which includes most of the holiday shopping season) would rebound a little, but it didn’t,” Kelty stated. “It just looks like people are cutting back and I hope we’ve bottomed out and will start to turn around in 2014.”

It may not take much to at least paint a little brighter picture on the local economy in 2014: Kelty said only two of the 12 months of 2013 saw even a slight 1 or 2 percent increase in sales tax.

Mayor Randy Winkler said he thinks the local economy has just about bottomed out and things could start to improve.

“WPX [Energy] is still hanging around,” he said of the local area’s only major natural gas operator. “We’ve got the Deerfield Park [new concession stand, press box and bleachers] and the new water plant project coming up, so that will put people to work for awhile. I know I sound like Mr. Positive, but I don’t think things are all doom and gloom.”

Winkler, who owns Micro Plastics, along with his wife, said his business had it’s second best year in the last 12 years in 2013.

“That may be because we’re in a time of change over,” he said, since Micro Plastics makes signs that new or expanded businesses need. “We’re kind of like U-Haul. When things seem bad and companies come and go, we see a little growth. So that’s another reason I’m more optimistic, because we have had new businesses.”

Winkler also notes the City Council recently reduced municipal development fees by 60 percent, to try to spur new home construction.

“I can only assume that things will get better,” Winkler said. “I see and sense things that tell me it should get better. But right now, it is tough.”

Kelty reported to City Council that when revenue from the water plant tax is included, total sales, use and lodging tax revenues for the year ending Dec. 31 was $8.3 million, a 16 percent increase from the previous year’s $7.1 million. Building and motor vehicle use tax revenues were $661,000, a 17 percent increase from the previous year’s $563,000, while lodging tax revenues were $114,000 and 1 percent more than the previous year’s $113,000.

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