Colorado Springs consumers accelerated their spending for a third consecutive month in July, boosting revenue from the city’s sales tax to the biggest percentage gain in 14 months.
Sales tax collections for August, based on transactions in July, increased 7.53 percent from August 2017 to $14.4 million. That was up from a 6.34 percent gain in July, 6.26 percent in June and 4.21 percent in May. The August rise is the highest since a 10.6 percent jump in June 2017 and pushed the year-to-date gain from 2017 to 5.7 percent.
“Increases between 7 percent and 8 percent are pretty robust, and that is on top of good increases in previous years. I can’t really imagine building materials growing much more because the home building industry is operating near or at capacity now,” said Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum.
About a third of the July increase came from sales of taxable items at grocery stores (most food is exempt from sales tax) and building materials, according to a report from the city’s Finance Department.
Revenue from grocery stores was up 35.3 percent, the biggest percentage gain of any category, while building material sales were up 9.6 percent. Business services and medical marijuana were the only two categories with declines.
The 2 percent tax generates more than half of the city’s revenue used for public safety, parks and other basic services, and economists consider sales tax numbers a key barometer of the local economy.
Other report highlights:
• Collections from the city’s tax on hotel rooms and rental cars rose 5 percent from August 2017 to a record $930,092 — replacing the record set in July. Year-to-date collections from the so-called tourism tax are up 5.6 percent to $4.08 million.
• Revenue from the city’s use tax — paid on equipment and machinery bought outside the Springs — surged 24.5 percent to $660,573. The August 2017 total was the lowest in more than three years. Year-to-date use tax revenue is up 4.3 percent to $5.3 million.
• Receipts from the city’s road repair sales tax in August rose 8.2 percent from August 2017 to $4.66 million. The tax has raised $31.2 million so far this year, up 5.7 percent from the same period last year.
• Overall sales and use tax collections in August were up 8.2 percent from a year ago to $15 million and year-to-date collections were up 5.7 percent to $100.6 million.
Those totals don’t include $3.75 million in special sales taxes for public safety, trails, parks and open space collected last month and $25.2 million collected so far this year.