Taxable sales by Nevada merchants rose in October, an increase of 1.8 percent from the same month last year to $2.7 billion.
It was the fourth consecutive month that sales improved over 2001.
But Gov. Kenny Guinn said Friday that the state is falling further behind in its collections from sales tax and is now $11.9 million behind the projections of the Economic Forum on which the state's budget is built.
"Without a dramatic turnaround, our deficit picture will continue to grow," Guinn said. "In order for Nevada to meet the Economic Forum's original projection, sales tax collections will need to grow 12.8 percent per month through the end of the fiscal year, which under any reasonable scenario will not occur."
The state Taxation Department reported Friday that through the first four months of this fiscal year, sales tax receipts are up 4.5 percent over the same period last fiscal year.
The October sales tax report follows a report earlier this month from state gambling regulators showing casinos won $807.4 million in October, a 4.6 percent increase.
Gambling and sales taxes account for three-quarters of the Nevada's general fund revenue, and Guinn is expected to recommend a major plan to the 2003 Legislature that would spread that tax base and increase collections.
In October, taxable sales grew in Clark County by 3 percent to $1.9 billion. But they fell in Washoe County by 0.7 percent to $441.9 million. Tiny Esmeralda County had the biggest increase -- 38.8 percent to $490,669, and sales increased 15.5 percent to $12.5 million in Eureka County.
Sales were down in nine of the state's counties, with Lander County reporting the worst downturn, 20 percent off its October 2001 sales total.
A sampling of other counties shows: Carson City, $68.6 million, down 9.3 percent; Churchill, $18.9 million, down 1.7 percent; Douglas, $53.9 million, up 13.8 percent; Elko, $56.3 million, down 6.9 percent; Humboldt, $23.1 million, down 10.5 percent; and White Pine, $6.4 million, up 2.9 percent.
Statewide, the department said business in eating and drinking establishments rose by 6 percent. But the sale of cars fell by 8.8 percent. Auto sales are one of the main contributors of sales tax.
In October last year, the car dealers offered big incentives to lure prospective buyers.
Apparel stores statewide posted an 18.3 percent gain in sales in October; miscellaneous retail stores were up 5.4 percent and food store sales inched up 0.3 percent.