Sales tax numbers continue to show slow economy
Citizen Telegram Editor
The beat goes on for the city of Rifle’s sales tax revenue numbers, and for the local business community: It’s still a slow economy out there.
While the total dollars received for sales, use and lodging tax revenues for the three months ending March 31 is up by 6 percent, Finance Director Charles Kelty said that’s mostly due to the 3/4 cent sales tax hike that took effect on Jan. 1 to help repay the $25 million loan for the new water treatment plant.
“Otherwise, we’re still down in general, although I think it may be looking a little bit better,” Kelty said.
Through March, the city received close to $1.9 million in sales-related revenue, compared to $1.78 million in the first three months of 2012.
Sales tax revenues alone, including the 3/4 cent monies, are $1.7 million so far this year, a 5 percent increase from the previous year’s $1.6 million. For the month of March, sales tax revenue was down by 6 percent.
Kelty added one factor that could contribute to the low numbers has to do with when federal and state income tax returns are due.
“Some people don’t spend much money until they file, so maybe we’ll see a little upswing in April and May,” he said.
The 3/4 cent sales tax is also raising slightly less revenue for the water plant debt service than initially estimated, Kelty noted.
“We’re about 13 percent behind projections, but that’s only with three months worth of data,” he said. “We just started making debt payments, and the full impact of that won’t happen until next year, so it’s not that big a concern right now.”
Revenue collected from that tax was just over $214,000, Kelty noted in his financial report to the City Council.
Other trends so far this year in various city revenue categories:
• Building and motor vehicle use tax revenues are more than $155,000, a 22 percent increase from the previous year’s $127,000. Kelty said most of that is due to projects by the Kum & Go convenience store chain, such as the new building where the Rusty Cannon Motel had been located.
• Lodging tax revenues are just over $14,000, a 39 percent decrease from the previous year’s $23,000.
• Food revenues are up 26 percent to nearly $259,000, compared to $205,000 last year.
• Oil and gas continues to show the steepest decline, 50 percent. So far, the city has received $102,000 in that category, compared to $206,000 at this time last year.
• General retail businesses have generated a 15 percent increase in sales tax revenue, more than $672,000 so far this year versus about $587,000 last year.
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