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Sales tax revenues up 15%

A report released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDR) indicated that April sales tax collections were the second best on record, outdone only by April 2006, and up 15.47 percent over collections from the same month last year.

April saw $426,995 in sales tax collections for the area; April 2006 recorded $442,646 in collections.

Tuesday’s CDR report showed growth in every sector of the local economy, with the exception of just two areas: Arts, Entertainment and Recreation (with $386 in revenues compared with $1,196 last year) and Other Services (except Public Administration), which accounted for $8,509 in April compared with $11,010 last year.

Retail, accounting for 45.4 percent of all sales tax collections last year, was up 8.4 percent in April relative to the same month last year.

The second largest market sector in the area — Accommodation and Food Services (16.5 percent of all collections in 2011) — was up nearly 35 percent from last year.

Manufacturing, the fastest-growing sector of the local economy (and now providing the fourth largest share of sales tax revenues) was up an astounding 46.68 percent over last year, indicating continued growth for that industry. Year-to-date, Manufacturing is up 6.68 percent over the same period last year.

Construction, a sector that has been steadily losing ground as a market share since 2007, was up an astounding 123.65 percent in April over the same month last year. That industry has improved 43.48 percent in sales tax collections this year compared to the first third of last year.

It is the Accommodation and Food Services sector that presents the most questions, however. On Tuesday, Town Tourism Coordinator Jennie Green reported that lodgers tax collections were down 0.8 percent in April relative to the same month last year.

As reported in the May 17 edition of The SUN, increases in lodgers tax collections have rarely corresponded with increases for the Retail or Accommodation and Food Services sectors.

For instance, a 19.14 percent increase in lodgers tax reported by the TTC in February was accompanied by a 0.96 percent increase in the Accommodation and Food Services sector reported by the CDR, with overall sales tax up just 0.53 percent in February over the same month last year. By the same token, the Retail Sales sector was up just 1.1 percent in February over the previous year while, in March, that same market sector reported a 5.67 jump, while lodgers tax receipts were up 14.27 percent.

Green said on Tuesday that, “April has shown the least amount of growth (for lodgers tax collections) in the last five years, followed by May and June showing the third least amount of growth. Every other month has shown at least a four-thousand-dollar increase over previous years.”

Although few would argue that tourism does not provide a beneficial economic effect on the area, hard data substantiating that effect has not been recorded.

Likewise, April’s boost in sales tax collections, while excellent news for the local economy, cannot immediately be interpreted as an indication of boom times in the area. Although Tuesday’s CDR report showed year-to-date collections up 6.64 percent from the same time period last year, more sales tax reports will be needed before drawing conclusions regarding ongoing economic trends for this year.

However, local numbers closely chart with national numbers showing sales tax collections up 5 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from a year ago.

However, most economists have forecast a slowdown in the second quarter of this year due to decreased consumer spending in April and May, as well as moribund employment numbers.

How the national economy influences local spending for goods and services could be evident when the CDR releases numbers for May sales tax collections in early July.

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