County officials find gross receipts taxes inconsistent

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Numbers may not lie, but right now they apparently aren’t telling anybody anything either.

Officials say gross receipts tax revenues, which not only line coffers of local government but also serve as an indicator of consumer spending, have been inconsistent in recent months.

December’s 12 percent drop in gross receipts tax revenue for Curry County may just be an anomaly and doesn’t appear to be part of a trend, Finance Manager Mark Lansford said.

While the dip in revenue seemed in stark contrast to an increase in city revenues for December, Lansford said the explanation could be as simple as a construction project generating funds in December 2007 but being completed by the same month of 2008, or a combination of events generating revenue unique to 2007.

Gross receipts tax revenue, which is derived from a portion of sales taxes paid on purchases inside the county, is between 35 and 40 percent of the county’s operating budget, Lansford said.

Curry County receives .75 percent of gross receipts taxes collected in the county or within any of its municipalities, including Clovis, he said.

In contradiction to the decrease, according to data from the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue, January revenue in the county climbed 8 percent.

Overall, figures show an increase of about 1 percent for the year, Lansford said, which also lends itself to the belief December was an anomaly.

“At this point in time for me it’s an anomaly, but if the trend continues, I will keep my boss informed and the commission because they need to know,” Lansford said.

“If our receipts continue this way, then we’re going to have to make some decisions, (but) I don’t get really concerned until I have three or four months trending.”

Clovis City Clerk Leighann Melancon said she too is seeing ups and downs in the revenues in recent months and has little explanation for it.

“It’s hard to tell (why). December we were down 3 percent, January we were actually up almost 6 percent,” she said.

“Maybe people weren’t quite sure at Christmas and in January went and took advantage of the (sales)… (but) definitely we don’t have a trend.”