Sales down, but officials optimistic |

Sales down, but officials optimistic

Even though Carson City’s taxable sales were down 5.8 percent in May, city officials say that’s not a bad number from their perspective.

“We’re OK,” said City Manager Larry Werner. “We estimated 13 percent down, and it’s only down 5.8. That’s a plus.”

Finance Director Nick Providenti agreed, saying that despite the year-over-year decline, “it’s better than projected.”

The total taxable sales in the capital came to $57.5 million for May.

Auto sales, Carson’s largest category, were off just 2.8 percent to $14.2 million for the month. But two other major categories, General Merchandise Stores and Food Services and Drinking Places, saw double-digit drops from a year ago.

“Food and drink I can understand,” said Providenti pointing to the 2009 Legis-lature. That category rises from January through June every year the Legislature is in session, falling when it isn’t. This year, it fell 14.3 percent to less than $6.4 million.

The General Merchandise category, however, neither he nor Werner could explain. The drop there was 13.4 percent this May to $10.33 million.

By comparison, the state as a whole saw taxable sales fall just 1.9 percent to $3.13 billion. Statewide, Food and Drinking Places were down less than 1 percent while General Merchandise stores were off a third of a percent while auto sales fell just

1.7 percent.

Douglas County faced a story similar to that of the capital in May, reporting a 6 percent drop to $40 million.

There, Food Services and Drinking Places declined 15.2 percent to $7.7 million while General Merchandise Store sales were off 6.7 percent. Those are Douglas’ two largest sales tax generators. Douglas got some help from auto sales in May: up 11.3 percent. But auto sales accounted for just $2.2 million of the monthly total.

Churchill County’s taxable sales were essentially flat in May, down a tenth of a percent to $21.78 million. Lyon County had a similar report with sales falling eight tenths to $24.2 million for the month.

Storey, where monthly taxable sales are closely tied to business activity at the Reno-Tahoe Industrial Park, saw a 12.7 percent decline to just more than $4 million.

Washoe reported a 3.8 percent decline to $425.2 million and Clark a 1.4 percent drop to $2.34 billion.

Construction categories continued to fall across the state in May. Statewide the decline was 31.6 percent.

In contrast to the decline in taxable sales, revenue collections from sales and use taxes actually increased 3.3 percent in May. That was in part because of $2.7 million in taxes collected under the latest amnesty program. Taxpayers who owe can escape penalties and interest during amnesty by contacting the state and paying the principal they owe.

In addition, even though taxable sales have continue to decline, they haven’t fallen as much as predicted by the January Economic Forum. As a result, the General Fund portion of sales taxes is now 3.2 percent or $21.5 million above what was forecast for the 11 months of this fiscal year.