By Mark Waite
Nye County taxable sales for November skyrocketed 60.6 percent over November 2011, according to figures released by the Nevada Department of Taxation last week, but the county only realized a 1.3 percent increase in consolidated tax collections, which is mostly from sales tax.
Taxable sales in the county increased from $39.5 million in November 2011 to $63.5 million in November 2012.
The main driver was the category of specialty trade contractors, from 49 filing locations, which had taxable sales of only $334,626 in November 2011 but had an increase of 6,992.5 percent in November 2012, with $23.7 million.
“I’m guessing a piece of equipment was delivered related to a green energy project, because the tax was abated. So you’re not going to see a bump in the revenue that corresponds to this increase,” Nevada Department of Taxation spokesman Marion Henderson said.
The construction of the Crescent Dunes solar project is in full swing 13 miles northwest of Tonopah.
SolarReserve Chief Executive Officer Kevin Smith said it’s difficult for his company to assess the impact of sales taxes on Nye County, which are incurred by dozens of subcontractors on the project that purchase equipment and materials with the sales tax included in the contract price.
The Crescent Dunes project qualified for a renewable energy tax abatement of 55 percent on property taxes. The project requires a 2.6 percent use tax that goes entirely to the local school district, Smith said.
“Certainly SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project has made a very significant contribution to the increase in sales tax receipts for Nye County, although we expect there are other projects that are making some contributions as well,” he said. “Our sales tax details are largely buried in the overall project costs billed to us by the general contractor and the subcontractors.”
Nye County consolidated tax receipts for November 2012 — which is predominantly sales tax but also includes cigarette and liquor tax — went up only 1.3 percent, from $1.12 million in November 2011 to $1.135 million in November 2012.
Among other major sales tax categories, support activities for mining, which includes only four filing locations, increased 401 percent from $217,688 to $1.09 million in taxable sales from November 2011 to November 2012.
Utilities collected 84.5 percent more in taxable sales last November than the year before, almost doubling from $1.22 million to $2.25 million.
NV Energy spokesman Mark Severts said that wasn’t attributable to their new transmission line project, which crosses remote, northeastern Nye County, or other company projects in the county.
Valley Electric Association is constructing improvements to the power line between the Pahrump substation and Vista substation.
Taxable sales for chemical manufacturing jumped 37.2 percent from $2.56 million to $3.5 million from November 2011 to November 2012.
The category of computer and electronic product manufacturing, with 11 vendors, rose 481 percent, soaring from $184,507 in taxable sales in November 2011 to $1.07 million in November 2012.
Food services and drinking places had 14.6 percent more taxable sales in November 2012, increasing from $3.198 million in November 2011 to $3.666 million in November 2012.
Thirty-four general merchandise stores in Nye County reported a slight 2.6 percent uptick in taxable sales in November 2012, increasing from $4.76 million to $4.88 million. The 120 non-store retailers saw taxable sales last November go up 4.3 percent, from $1.045 million to $1.09 million.
Other economic sectors had decreases.
Machinery manufacturing dropped 53.4 percent from $3.56 million to $1.66 million.
Merchant wholesalers of durable goods saw taxable sales drop 17.9 percent from $3.29 million to $2.7 million. That category includes 275 vendors countywide. Henderson said it includes the sale of goods intended to last more than six months that is often machinery tied to the mining industry.
Among sectors more closely related to the consumer, motor vehicle and parts dealers saw taxable sales decline 3.5 percent in Nye County from $4.86 million in November 2011 to $4.69 million in November 2012.
Taxable sales on building material and garden equipment fell 5.1 percent, from $2.23 million to $2.12 million.
Taxable sales paid to rental and leasing services dropped 65.6 percent, from $2.12 million to $737,976.
Food and beverage stores saw taxable sales drop 6 percent, from $1.588 million to $1.493 million.
The November bump helped taxable sales in Nye County for the fiscal year that began July 1 show a 16.4 percent increase over the same first five months in the 2011-12 fiscal year. Taxable sales in Nye County rose from $215 million to $250 million.
November figures came on top of a 36.8 percent in taxable sales in Nye County during October, which were again led by specialty trade contractors, who racked up $14.4 million in taxable sales that month, compared to $2.29 million in October 2011.
But taxable sales were off to a sluggish start in the 2012-13 fiscal year in Nye County, with declines of 8 percent in July and September.
Statewide, taxable sales rose 7.1 percent in November 2012 from November 2011 and 5.6 percent so far this fiscal year.
Motor vehicle and parts dealers had a 16.1 percent increase in taxable sales statewide in November, machinery manufacturing was up 90 percent, specialty trade contractors up 77.6 percent, building material and garden equipment taxable sales increased 15.9 percent while food services and drinking places had a modest 3 percent increase.