Retail growth spurs hope of higher revenue

Carson City’s government revenue and budget pictures are steady as she goes, but there are hopes for a blip up in sales-tax take, according to Finance Director Nick Providenti.

Providenti acknowledged the cautious optimism in part because retail stores are opening this month and next, offering his remarks Friday after a once-over-lightly look at the revenue and budget picture for the Board of Supervisors the previous afternoon. The Ross Dress for Less store already opened; Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bealls family apparel will open soon. Providenti, however, also looked back to put things in perspective.

“I wanted to show what’s happened since 2006 in auto sales and in general merchandise, which wasn’t quite as dramatic,” he said, recapping details provided to the city’s governing board. They showed a deep dip and some recovery for vehicles, and slightly less so for other merchandise in the community. Such taxable sales are an underpinning, along with property taxes, of revenues for city government’s more than $60 million fiscal year budget.

Deliberations on the fiscal year 2014-15 budget begin in earnest next month.

Auto sales in the city declined from about $300 million in 2006 to $150 million in 2009, according to a Providenti graph, and have recovered through last year to more than $200 million. General merchandise, meanwhile, was at $150 million in 2006 and was a bit higher in 2007, but it declined to well below that in 2010. By 2013, according to the merchandise graph, it had returned to about $150 million.

Providenti also provided the board with a pie chart showing where sales-tax revenues come from in Carson City: autos, 28 percent; retail, 18 percent; restaurants, 11 percent; building materials, 9 percent; wholesale, 8 percent; food, 4 percent; and all other categories, 22 percent.

Looking forward, economic recovery generally and those new stores specifically could prove helpful.

“I am hopeful,” said Providenti, but he warned he didn’t expect “anything crazy” as recovery continues at what has proved a slow pace. He said it is still nothing like it was before the recession, yet didn’t argue with the point that the midpoint in the past decade was an unusually robust period.

Providenti begins the budget process with department heads and the board using aging revenue-projection data, but will update it and have a better picture regarding estimates in coming months.

“We’re on track,” he said.

But it’s all a moving target, and Providenti also rachets into his thinking the board’s previous decision to predicate property-tax revenues on a levy of $3.54 per $100 in value rather than the $3.56 that was the rate this year.


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