With relatively strong holiday purchasing to cap the year, Salt Lake County finished 2012 with sales tax revenues that exceeded 2011 totals by almost 7 percent.
And there’s more good news, county financial officer Lance Brown told the County Council on Tuesday. Salt Lake had employment growth of 2.9 percent last year, better than four other Western cities — Phoenix and Denver (both 2.5 percent), Boise (2.1 percent) and Los Angeles (1.4 percent).
“The Salt Lake metro area outperformed everybody in 2012,” he added. “That’s a good indicator of what’s happening in our economy.”
Sales tax receipts in December rose 5.3 percent to $12.8 million. That wasn’t as strong as the growth rate for the year’s first 11 months but still continued 2012’s upward trend, Brown said.
In the end, the county collected $131.2 million in sales tax revenue last year, up 6.9 percent from $122.8 million in 2011.
Brown said the only sales-tax category to go down last year involved car rentals, which slipped 0.5 percent. “But that comes on the heels of a 10 percent increase in 2011 over 2010,” he added, noting that transient room tax receipts declined late in the year after a strong early start. Still, they ended the year up 5 percent.
The county option tax on retail sales, the biggest individual source of sales tax revenue for the county, amounted to $47.7 million in 2012.
That was the county’s highest 12-month total, Brown said, since $49.6 million was collected between March 2007 and February 2008.
And it’s far better than the county’s worst 12-month period of the Great Recession — March 2009 through February 2010 — when sales-tax collections plummeted to $40.8 million.
That trend pleased County Council Chairman Steve DeBry, who looked over Brown’s numbers and graphics and said, “We’ll be back to 2007 levels next year.”
Not quite, Brown observed, noting that while tax receipts are projected to climb back to 2007 levels, their buying power is less because of inflation over the past six years.