Summit County sales tax slump continues

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News

Summit County’s sales tax collections continued a downward spiral in April, and another 6 percent decline in property tax revenue is projected for the coming years.

County staff has looked at a wide range of approaches to help offset falling revenues, but sources say a county tax measure will not be proposed to the Commissioners for the ballot this November.

“These certainly aren’t encouraging numbers,” county manager Gary Martinez said. “But for now (they) can be handled without major changes as we implemented a couple years ago.”

Sales tax collections fell more than 18 percent in unincorporated Summit County in April from the same month last year.

The latest dip puts sales taxes down 5.53 percent year-to-date, after revenues fell during the normally high-earning first three months of the year.

County sales tax revenue was down 9 percent in January and almost 3 percent in February from the same months in 2011.

Despite low snowfall and relatively dry spring conditions, sales tax held up through March, dipping just 1.6 percent from 2011.

But the losses were expensive for county coffers. January was off $42,100 from 2011 incomes. February lost $11,555 in revenue from last year, March, $10,115 and April, another $41,800.

Year to date, the county is down $105,575 in sales tax revenue from last year.

Of the county’s roughly $4.5 million in annual sales tax collections, 45 percent are generated in the first three months of the year.

The April sales tax data arrived as data were assembled indicating the county will suffer another 5-6 percent property tax revenue decrease starting in 2014.

The dip in property taxes for 2014 is slightly less steep than the 8 percent decrease projected earlier this year, but it follows a 17 percent decrease in tax collections in 2012 and 2013.

Valuations recovered slightly as home and property prices evened out over the last three months, after falling consistently over the last several years.

“What a gift it would be for 2015 if we stayed flat,” Summit County Assessor Beverly Breakstone said of property valuations. “I’m very hopeful that that three-month trend will continue.”

Property tax collections are based on valuations two years before. If property values begin to recover in July and remain constant or increase, they will boost tax revenues starting in 2016.

The assessor’s office will close out the property valuation period determining the county’s tax collections in 2014 and 2015 at the end of June.

Mass transit taxes are up 1.4 percent year to date, according to data provided by the county.

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