Sales tax revenue skid ends – barely

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The slide in city sales and use tax revenue has stopped, at least for now. The city’s sales and use tax for August increased 2.27 percent over the prior year period.

Sales tax actually dropped by .81 percent, but use taxes increased by just over 40 percent. An example of a use tax would be if you purchased office supplies via the Internet and did not pay sales tax. You are still liable for a use tax, which is paid directly to the city.

Auto dealers and auto repairs and leases continue to register increases over last year, while most other categories are down or show a small increase. Auto dealers recorded an increase of over 12 percent over the previous year, while auto repair and leasing is up over 9 percent.

Down the largest is the utilities category, at over 20 percent below last June. Business to business sales are also down, nearly 17 percent. The crucial hotel/motel revenue, a barometer for area tourism, also dropped precipitously, falling almost 9 percent below last year.

Grocery stores also showed a drop of over two percent – and remains down nearly 12 percent over a year ago, which is baffling to tax officials, as the category is usually on the plus side.

Perhaps one reason for the drop is the continued decline in retail food prices in the state. Colorado Farm Bureau said a survey of 16 basic grocery items shows a 22-cent decrease from the second-quarter survey results.

The city collected $9,352,835 last month, but revenues for the year are still almost seven percent less than a year ago. Officials said the lost revenue is attributable to many factors, including the generally slow economy, thousands of local layoffs, the drought and the Hayman fire.

City council and city department heads said last month when tax revenues took a big hit from the previous month that some city projects may be delayed, and that some might not be done at all.

New home construction slowed in August, reversing the local housing industry’s recent improvement and possibly signaling that bad economic news over the summer is catching up with consumers.

August permits numbered the fewest in a month since February. From March through July of this year, single-family permits unexpectedly topped 400 each month, with July’s total actually increasing from the same month last year, the first such increase in 11 months.

For the first eight months of the year, single-family home permits totaled 3,242, down 13.8 percent from the same period in 2001, according to the department.

“The last 12 months have seen an actual decline in Colorado employment of 51,600 jobs (down 2.3 percent),” said Vectra Bank economist Jeff Thredgold. “Much weaker job performance, leading to lesser income creation and weaker retail sales, has a negative impact upon Colorado small business.”

Thredgold believes job openings will increase next year, and that retail sales will increase.