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Taxable sales flat in October

by Jeff Munson

Taxable sales for October were flat in Douglas County compared to last year, while the rest of the state saw a 2.9 percent increase.

A summary of Douglas County shows that in October 2001, combined sales and use tax for the month was $45,471,145, compared to $45,470,951 in October 2000.

But taxable sales over the last three years have advanced to such a high degree that the flatness is seen by county leaders as a period of “leveling off.”

“I’m pleased overall given the national economic climate,” said Douglas County Manager Dan Holler. “If you look at taxable sales since 1999, we’re still 10 percent above 1999 figures.”

October taxable sales in 1999 were $41,017,481. Advances since 1999 have been seen in the county’s biggest sectors, including wholesale durable and non-durable goods, building materials and hardware, general merchandise stores, home furniture, automotive dealerships and eating and drinking establishments.

Figures show restaurants and drinking establishments, which makes up about 30 percent of the county’s total taxable sales, took a modest hit, from $11.5 million in October 2000 to $11.2 million.

“I would have expected this to be much higher,” Holler said. “It tells me that tourism didn’t decline as much as we thought it would, or that local people are going out more to restaurants.”

Building materials and hardware, which makes up about 18 percent of the total taxable sales, declined slightly from $8.4 million in October 2000 to $8.1 million this year. Holler attributed the drop to the consolidation of BMC West Building Materials Center and the closing of Gardnerville’s Copeland lumber yard.

On the other hand, wholesale durable goods such as big-ticket appliances and goods that have longevity, climbed 114 percent from a year ago, from $1.8 million in October 2000 to $3.9 million. And automobile sales in Douglas County also saw advances from a year ago.

Taxable sales from dealerships jumped 18 percent, from $3.8 million in October 2000 to $4.5 million.

Holler said the slowing economy was predicted and that Douglas County had prepared for it. And while the events of Sept. 11 certainly add more economic uncertainty, Douglas County has bounced back.

“On the whole, I would say that with the economy, we may wind up with a five percent increase in our annual growth rate, which is what we predicted in our overall budget,” Holler said.

n Staff writer Jeff Munson can be reached at munson@swiftnews.com