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Salt Lake County sales taxes continue upward trend

Published August 15, 2012 1:30 pm

Economy • Collections are 8.1 percent ahead through May, part of a "very positive trend."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake County's share of sales-tax revenues continued its steady migration upward during May, a good sign for the still rebounding local economy.

Sales-tax collections in May were 8.9 percent greater than in the same month a year earlier, county financial officer Lance Brown told the County Council on Tuesday.

May's year-over-year gain (about $820,000) means that for the first five months of 2012, the county's portion of six types of sales taxes was up 8.1 percent over a comparable period in 2011, he added.

"Right now we're seeing a very positive trend," said Brown, whose revenue figures and projections help council members know how their annual budget is faring midway through the year and how 2013 prospects are looking with the budget preparation period fast approaching.

County Councilman Randy Horiuchi asked if it is was too early to start planning on more money being available in 2013 after several lean years following the 2008 financial collapse. May was the last month for which figures are available.

Yes, Brown said. "I'll have a better answer for you after we do our projections in October," he added. But so far, "the trend is clearly one that's improving."

The improvement is most noticeable in the local option sales tax, whose collections for the first five months are almost 17 percent ahead of the previous year's pace and reached a 48-month high in May. That 1 percent tax is levied by virtually all local governments.

Four other categories of sales taxes — the quarter-cent county option tax, the two taxes paid on rental hotel rooms and the taxes to support the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) program — also are up 8-9 percent over last year, Brown said.

Only the restaurant tax, which through May was up 3.8 percent over a year earlier, and the car-rental tax (down 0.9 percent over that time frame), lagged behind.

Brown noted the county option sales tax, which brings Salt Lake County four times as much money as any of the other categories, has not rebounded to pre-recession levels.

Over the past year, the county has taken in $45.9 million from this tax. That trails the $48.5 million figure for the year just before the financial-system collapse in the fall of 2008, Brown said, but is markedly better than the $40.8 million low hit in 2009-10.

mikeg@sltrib.com

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