photo - A rainbow hangs in the evening sky above downtown Colorado Springs Saturday, July 6, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
A rainbow hangs in the evening sky above downtown Colorado Springs Saturday, July 6, 2013. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Colorado Springs sales tax collections stayed on a roll in April, surging 16.2 percent over April 2016, for the eighth consecutive double-digit percentage increase and ninth in the past 10 months.

Tourism had its best month in more than 16 years, and homebuilding also surged.

Collections of the city's 2 percent sales tax in April, which reflect consumer spending in March, totaled $13.9 million, up nearly $2 million from April 2016 and the biggest percentage increase since an 18.7 percent surge in December.

Sales tax revenue has climbed every month since October 2015. Collections so far this year are up to $35.9 million - 13.2 percent over the same period a year earlier and more than triple the growth rate in the same months last year.

"We have more people employed, more people buying things and more tourists coming to Colorado Springs. They all point to a very strong local economy," said Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum. "Almost every month, I look at this data and say 'Wow!'"

Nearly half of the April increase came from sales by building material stores, restaurants and miscellaneous retailers. Building material sales were up 38.1 percent from a year earlier, the second-highest percentage gain of any category after hotels and motels, where collections were up 42.7 percent.

All but two of the 14 retail categories tracked by the city were up in April from the same month a year earlier, including 11 growing by double-digit percentages. Department and discount stores as well as commercial machine dealers were the only categories down from April 2016.

City tax revenue from hotel rooms and rental cars in April surged 39.3 percent from April 2016 to $492,262, the biggest monthly gain since a 42.3 percent increase in November 2000. Revenue from the tax so far this year is up 19.7 percent from the same period a year ago to $1.08 million.

Doug Price, CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said city staff members told his agency that March hotel tax collections included large quarterly tax returns as well as monthly returns, reflecting an "outstanding" first quarter for the industry. Based on the bureau's information from hoteliers and research firms, Price said, he expects April collections from the tax to grow at a double-digit percentage.

Other highlights from the report include:

◘ Revenue from the city's special road repair tax, which started last year, was up 16.8 percent from April 2016 to $4.58 million, the second-highest monthly total after the $5.12 million collected in January.Road tax revenuedthis year total $11.8 million, up 15.3 percent from the same period a year ago. If collections continue at this rate, the city will collect $54.2 million this year from the road tax, based on the average percentage of revenue collected in the same months from 2013 through 2016.

◘ Use tax revenues - collected on the sale of equipment and machines elsewhere but used inside the city - totaled $947,666 in April, up 20.2 percent from April 2016. Use tax collections so far this year are up just $4,425, or 0.2 percent from the same period a year ago, to $2.15 million.

◘ Medical marijuana tax revenues totaled $170,728 in April, up 20.3 percent from April 2016 and so far this year are up 16.1 percent from a year ago.

Local economists, business people, homebuilders and others keep a close watch on the city's monthly sales tax report because it is a key indicator of the city's economic health and generates more than half of the revenue that pays for public safety, parks and other services from the city's general fund. The city also collects special taxes for public safety, parks and open space that totaled $3.7 million in April and $9.52 million so far this year, climbing at the same rate as the city's overall sales tax.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

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