Nevada merchants sold $3.9 billion in goods in March, on which the state collected gross revenue of nearly $300 million. The 2 percent that goes to the state general fund — about $75.3 million — is up 3 percent from March 2011, the report said.
But sales in Clark County, the state’s largest county that includes Las Vegas, were up only 1.9 percent for the month. Washoe County in northern Nevada reported a 3 percent gain.
In contrast, rural White Pine County reported a whopping 672 percent increase in sales, fueled largely by utilities and construction of a power transmission line, said Brody Leiser with the tax department.
Utilities in that county posted a $138 million increase over March 2011.
“If you take that
category alone in White Pine out of the equation, we’d be looking at a 3 percent increase statewide” in overall taxable sales, Leiser said.
In the rural areas, where mining activity and energy development are a big part of the economies, purchases of large equipment can skew results of monthly reports.
Still, March marked the 21st consecutive month of improved statewide sales.
Sales of vehicles and auto parts rose 15.8 percent; accommodations, up 21.1 percent; clothing and accessories, up 7.9 percent; food and beverage stores, up 7.6 percent; and durable goods, up 5.6 percent.
A warm spring also added to consumer buying impulses. Sales of building material, garden equipment and supplies rose 34 percent compared with March 2011, when cold and snow lingered into early June across northern Nevada. This year, temperatures were unseasonably mild through much of the winter and early spring.
The $300 million collected in gross sales and use taxes represents a 4 percent increase over the same month a year ago. Tax collections are up 6.6 percent for the first nine months of the fiscal year that began July 1.
So far, general fund sales and use tax revenues are 4 percent higher, or $24.4 million, above projections made in May 2011 by the independent Economic Forum. Forum projections are used to build a two-year state budget.
Besides sales and use taxes, the taxation department also reported $96.2 million collected in modified business taxes, which are collected quarterly based on wages. Those collections were up 4.2 percent compared with the same three-month quarter last year.
For the fiscal year, modified business tax revenues total $355 million and are up 3.2 percent, or roughly $8.8 million, above last year’s Economic Forum forecast.