Rifle’s sales tax numbers up slightly to start 2014 | PostIndependent.com

Rifle’s sales tax numbers up slightly to start 2014

Apples to apples.

That’s how Rifle Finance Director Charles Kelty said the city’s monthly sales tax revenue numbers now can be compared to the same month from a year ago for an estimate of the status of the city’s local businesses.

Kelty said the January numbers found a slight two percent increase in sales tax revenue from January 2013, only the third increase of any amount in more than a year.

“We started the 3/4 cent sales tax on Jan. 1, 2013, so we now have a full year of revenue,” Kelty explained of the main reason for the slight increase. “We’re comparing apples to apples again.”

Last year, since it was the first year the city collected the 3/4-cent, voter-approved sales tax to help pay for the new $25 million water treatment plant, Kelty kept a separate tally of revenue. The water plant tax money can only be used for that purpose, and the removal of that revenue helped contribute to many months of overall declining sales tax revenue over 2012 numbers.

In his report to the City Council, Kelty wrote that total sales, use and lodging tax revenues for the month ending Jan. 31 were $644,131, a nine percent increase from the previous year’s $590,808.

Sales tax revenues were $559,230 and two percent higher than last year’s $546,739. Building and motor vehicle use tax revenues were $78,408 and 110 percent more than the previous year’s $37,281. Lodging tax revenues stood at $6,492 and four percent lower than the previous year’s $6,788.

Among the sales categories Kelty tracks for the city, food and liquor stores were down, but others like motels were up to offset the losses.

“Our use taxes were up substantially, too,” Kelty noted. “That’s probably due to City Market’s [under construction] gas station, but our motor vehicle use tax, which is part of that category, was up, too.”

Overall, the small increase was welcome.

“I’m glad we’re up, even though it’s not a huge amount of money,” Kelty said. “Starting the year with an increase makes me feel better that maybe we’ve finally bottomed out. But my crystal ball is still murky.”

Kelty added that if each month’s sales tax numbers come in between two and five percent higher this year than the same month last year, “I’d be very pleased.”

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