Strong gains from business services, auto dealers and building materials retailers last month combined to generate the biggest increase this year in Colorado Springs sales tax collections, a new report said.
Revenue from the city’s sales tax in May jumped 8.9% from May 2018 to $13.9 million, the biggest monthly increase since a 10.9% gain in December. The increase extended a stretch of consecutive monthly gains that began in January 2018, according to a report from the city’s Finance Department.
Tax collected in May reflects sales in April. Collections this year are up 6.2% from the same period a year ago, at $53.7 million.
Nearly two-thirds of the May increase came from business services, up 87.5% on a year-over-year basis; building materials, up 16.6%; and auto dealers, up 22%. Just four of 15 retail categories tracked by the city declined in May — commercial machines, down 28.5%; furniture, appliances and electronics, off 3.5%; miscellaneous retail, 0.6%; and hotels and motels, 0.5%.
Tom Binnings, a senior partner in Summit Economic, a local research and consulting firm, called the revenue increase from auto dealers “impressive, an indicator of continued local economic strength with growing spending on big-ticket items like vehicles and housing. That shows confidence in the economy.”
Colorado Springs levies a 2% sales tax on nonfood and prescription drug purchases, funding more than half of city government, including public safety, parks and other services. Revenue from the tax is a key measure of consumer spending and the health of the local economy.
The city also collects special taxes for roads, public safety and trails, open space and parks as well as a use tax on equipment and machinery bought outside the city for local use.
Other highlights from the report:
• The city’s tax on hotel rooms and rental vehicles — a key tourism industry barometer — rose 2.2% from May 2018 to $546,327, the smallest monthly increase since December. This year, revenue from the “bed and car” tax is up 12.5% from a year ago to $1.84 million.
• Revenue from the city’s road repair tax in May was up 8.2% to $4.51 million and this year has increased 5.6% from the same period last year to $17.6 million.
• Use tax revenue in May fell 4.6% from May 2018 to $603,597 and year-to-date is off 3.6% to $3.05 million.