Carson sales tax numbers up 10 percent in November

While most of Nevada continued its economic slump in November, Carson City's taxable sales surprised city officials with a 10.2 percent increase.

That increase came even as statewide taxable sales fell 1.3 percent compared to November 2006. Total taxable sales for the month were $3.8 billion.

In Carson City, total sales were $77.84 million. The increase was helped substantially by solid gains in some of the capital's largest categories.

Carson City Manager Linda Ritter said she was most encouraged by the improved economic activity throughout the capital.

But she said actual revenue collections in November fell $20,749 short of projections. She said staff will be trying to determine what happened there.

As a result, she said she doesn't think the city should revise revenue projections.

"One month does not make a trend," Ritter said.

Auto sales, Carson's largest sales tax producer, reported a 6.6 percent growth for November to $16.94 million.

Dick Campagni, whose area dealerships sell vehicles ranging from Toyotas to GM trucks and SUVs, said he had "a great year."

And he said he's optimistic about 2008.

"The domestics were down a bit but they're coming back," he said. "And that's a good sign for everybody."

In addition to auto sales, sales by food services and drinking places increased 6 percent to $7.1 million and sales by food and beverage stores were up 46 percent to $4.6 million. Some categories that would indicate solid early Christmas shopping were also up substantially including electronics and appliances where the gain was 24 percent.

Lyon County also enjoyed a solid gain in November, 5.2 percent to $28.9 million. There, mineral product manufacturing, sales of wholesale goods and building material sales all produced double digit gains, as did food and beverage stores.

But Douglas County was down two-tenths of a percent to $55.8 million in sales.

Statewide numbers were held up by a 2.5 percent gain in Clark County, which reported $2.85 billion in taxable sales. But that was offset by decreased sales numbers in 11 of Nevada's 17 counties, including Washoe, where sales fell 1.6 percent to $534.3 million.

And Storey County continued its rollercoaster ride with a 90 percent drop in taxable sales. Storey's fortunes received huge boosts from last year's major purchases by Sierra Pacific Power as the utility constructed its new electric generating plant at Tracy. But they also experience huge month to month swings as companies make periodic major purchases at the Reno-Tahoe Industrial Park.

Compared to the May 2007 Economic Forum forecasts, the general fund portion of sales tax is down 4.42 percent - that is right in line with the 4.5 percent projected shortfall predicted by the governor's budget staff. In dollars, the shortfall is $47 million below the forecast.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said in his statement on the monthly report the increases in several retail categories are a hopeful sign, "indicating slow but cautious improvements in some consumer spending."

He added that, hopefully, this week's additional reduction in the federal reserve's interest rate will help spur economic recovery.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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