Sales tax revenue up


Staff Writer

If one small glitch gets ironed out, the Pagosa Springs Town Council should receive fairly rosy reports for this month concerning two main sources of income — sales tax and lodgers’ tax.

“We are still waiting on four payments for February,” Town Tourism Committee Director Jennie Green explained during the TTC’s Tuesday afternoon meeting, “one of which the property transferred ownership in the last month, so that may be the reason for the delay. Even though February was very strong, unless we get all of the payments, it may reflect that we were down, but I know that we were not, in fact, down.”

The TTC’s budget is based on the tax revenue the town receives from its lodging establishments and vacation rental properties. Owners of these properties are supposed to pay their lodging taxes directly to the town each month.

“Right now it reflects that we were down,” Town Manager David Mitchem confirmed, “but sales tax for February, which we just received, was up over fourteen percent.”

“Well isn’t there a way to collect?” TTC Chairman Bob Hart asked. “I mean, that’s a pretty serious offense — not paying your taxes.”

“We’re hoping those will come in soon,” said Mitchem, “since that is all we need for our sales tax and lodgers tax report to town council. We’d like to be able to say that lodging tax dollars are up as well.”

Mitchem and Green both refused to disclose which four lodging properties hadn’t paid February taxes.

While town residents will have to wait until the April 18 town council meeting to find out what is going on with the February lodgers’ tax numbers, the sales tax numbers for the same month have been released by LeeAnn Foutz from the Archuleta County Finance Department.

“February Sales Tax revenue received in April 2013 totals $460,838.34,” Foutz reported. “This is an increase of $57,567.57 or 14.28 percent over February 2012.”

Breaking the report down by industry sector reveals that the largest gains were because of the utility companies, which collected $79,572 worth of sales tax revenue, up by $18,646 or 30.6 percent over 2012.

Accommodation and food service businesses collected $70,121 worth of sales tax revenue in February, up by $9,528 or 15.7 percent when compared to the same month last year.

The construction industry contributed $11,740 in sales tax revenue to the county for February, whereas for the same month last year only $4,181 came in, a gain of $7,559 or a remarkable 180.8 percent. Whether this increase is due to warmer weather this year compared to last year, or if there is, in fact, an upward trend in construction remains to be seen.

The information sector collected $27,965 worth of sales tax revenue, up by $3,391 or 13.8 percent over 2012, while the largest sector of Archuleta County’s economy, retail trade, collected $204,462 worth of sales tax revenue for February, up by $16,143 or 8.6 percent over the same period last year.

Other industries that saw over-the-year gains in February include manufacturing, wholesale trade, finance and insurance, administrative and support, health care, and arts, entertainment and recreation.

Mining, real estate, educational services and professional, scientific and technical services all showed declines compared to last year, while the transportation and warehousing sector reported no income at all in February.

On a related note, The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937, recently reported, “Tax Freedom Day will arrive on April 18th this year, the 108th day of 2013. Americans will work well over three and a half months of the year before they have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state, and local levels.” This is five days more than last year.

In other economic news for the month of February, according to a report from Colorado’s Chief Economist Alexandra Hall, Archuleta County had 5,795 people actively participating in its labor force — 5,206 employed and 589 claiming unemployment — with an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent.

This is up compared to last month, when Archuleta County’s unemployment rate was 10.0 percent, but down compared to February 2012, when it was 11.2 percent.