Tax numbers drop in October

October taxable sales numbers were down in nine of Nevada's 17 counties, including Carson City and Douglas County. In Carson, the major reason for the 7.9 percent drop was a 5.1 percent decrease in motor vehicle and parts sales, the capital's largest category with $19.7 million in sales for the month.

The problem was further aggravated by steep declines in categories related to housing construction: A 50 percent drop in furniture and related manufacturing and 9.3 percent in building materials sales. But general retail categories were also down. Total sales in Carson were $76 million for October.

In Douglas, sales were down 7.3 percent. Again, building materials sales and furniture categories were off 21 percent and 24 percent respectively. General merchandise stores were down 6.4 percent and wholesale totals also fell by double digit amounts. Even though Douglas's biggest category, food services and drinking places, increased 5 percent to $12.6 million, it wasn't enough to erase all the other declines. Total reported sales were $57.8 million.

Washoe's sales fell 2.1 percent to $555.9 million.

Statewide, October's taxable sales numbers look good on paper, showing a 4.3 percent increase over October 2006 to a total of $3.98 billion.

But it's more because of an accounting issue than an actual increase in sales. According to Department of Taxation officials, the increase was made to appear much larger by a correction made to the numbers in October 2006. That correction resulted in a $30 million reduction on paper.

When that is taken into account, the actual increase is just six one-hundredths of a percent.

Even with a gain in October, taxable sales for the first four months of this fiscal year are still 1.5 percent down from the same period last year. But the fact taxable sales didn't fall further behind last year's totals in October is good news for the state's struggling economy.

Gov. Jim Gibbons issued a cautious statement saying he was encouraged that some parts of Nevada's economy - especially those related to the tourism industry - are showing signs of improvement.

The total was buoyed by a solid 6.5 percent increase in Clark County, which reported $2.98 billion in sales.

And the counties most dependent on mining showed solid growth - more than 15 percent in Elko, 6.5 percent in White Pine. And Humboldt turned in a 614 percent increase from $5.3 million in sales to $38.5 million, also because of purchases by the mining industry.

Storey County, with continued growth in the Reno Tahoe Industrial Park, saw a 26.3 percent increase to $10.1 million.

The October report puts the general fund revenues at $34 million below their forecast for fiscal 2008.

Taxation officials pointed out cigarette taxes are just about where they were projected and the liquor tax is just 2.3 percent below projections. The live entertainment tax, however, is 2 percent above what was projected by the Economic Forum.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.

County Taxable Sales Change from October 2006

Statewide $3.98 billion 4.3%

Carson City $76 million -7.9%

Churchill $21.96 million 2.4%

Douglas $57.8 million -7.3%

Lyon $28 million -5.4%

Storey $10.1 million 26.3%

Washoe $555.9 million -2.1%

Clark County $2.98 billion 6.5%


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