Nevada businesses reported what appears to be a substantial increase in taxable sales for September.
But as Taxation Director Chuck Chinnock quickly pointed out Wednesday, the 7.5 percent jump is in comparison to the month when terrorist attacks practically shut down Nevada's tourist economy a year ago in September.
"The impact to the nation's economy was amplified here in Nevada due to our tourist-based economy," Chinnock said.
The attacks shut down airport traffic, which brings in the majority of southern Nevada's customers, and forced cancellation of the National Championship Air Races -- Reno's biggest annual event.
Because of the attacks, taxable sales for September 2001 were 9.33 percent below the same month of 2000.
Gov. Kenny Guinn agreed with the analysis, saying it makes more sense to compare September 2000 with this September. That shows an increase of only 0.4 percent to $2.75 billion, compared to $2.74 billion in the same month of 2000.
"Another way of looking at Nevada's current revenue picture for sales and use tax is the state has lost one year's worth of anticipated, planned gains in its general fund revenue," said Guinn.
Guinn has sale for several months now that the fiscal impact of 9/11 was to completely take away a year's fiscal growth in Nevada. Total taxable sales in September 2001 were just $2.56 billion.
However, Chinnock said the amount collected for the state general fund this September was up 1.5 percent.
Carson City was down 1.6 percent for the month, compared to 2001. Total taxable sales were $71.1 million in September.
Douglas County reported a 17.8 percent jump in total sales to $57.8 million.
Taxation officials say the largest increases were for gasoline and automotive dealers, whose total sales rose 15.7 percent statewide. They credit the zero-percent financing offered by auto manufacturers for the increase.
Carson City, where auto and gas sales account for nearly one-third of total taxable sales, saw a 13 percent increase in that category to $22.5 million. But whereas the rest of the state reported an 8.4 percent increase in general merchandise sales, Carson's number was down 31.6 percent, and that is the capital's second-largest sales tax category.
In Douglas, just the opposite occurred, New stores opened just south of the Carson City line, increasing general merchandise sales by 237 percent -- from $2.1 million in September 2001 to $7.2 million this year.
Total taxable sales in Washoe County were up by 5.4 percent to $469.9 million. In Clark County, the jump was 9.5 percent, but that's partly because Clark was hardest hit by Sept. 11, 2001, and suffered the biggest drop in business one year ago.
Guinn said through the first three months of this fiscal year, the state is $7 million shy of meeting the sales tax revenue projections used to build this year's budget.