After looking at September sales receipts, city officials said Wednesday the growing loss of sales tax revenue in Carson City will be more than expected this year.
With the loss of Wal-Mart to Douglas County, city officials projected and budgeted for an annual $800,000 loss, but September sales figures show a trend that may mean a total loss of $1.1 million in revenue to the city per year, said Finance Director David Heath.
"We knew that the bubble was going to burst by mid-year," Heath said. "The impact of Wal-Mart appears to be more severe than anticipated. It's an ominous sign for sure."
Heath said the city should be able to work around the losses this year, but as more development arrives in Douglas County next year, the city will need to "brace" itself.
September sales figures released last week show the city lost $4.06 million in general merchandise sales, a 31.6 percent loss over September 2001, while automobile and gas sales saw a healthy gain of $2.58 million, a 13 percent jump over last year.
Carson City recorded a drop of 1.6 percent overall for September.
"If it wasn't for (auto sales), we'd be in a world of hurt," Heath said.
State taxation officials said the automotive dealer and gasoline sales experienced the largest gains, increasing 15.7 percent statewide in September. They credit the zero-percent financing offered by auto manufacturers for the increase.
Car sales are not expected to take up the slack as easily for the city in October and November, however, as national auto sales nationwide have reportedly decreased sharply. Reports released Tuesday show sales at General Motors fell 18 percent from a year earlier.
On the other hand, Douglas County's taxable sales receipts grew 17.8 percent in September. The county took in $5.06 million more in general merchandise sales over last year, a 237 percent increase.
Sales within Carson totaled $226.4 million for the year at the end of September, while Douglas County recorded $172.6 million.