Gilbert may be the nation’s fastest-growing municipality, but its retail sales tax collections are lagging behind.
Numbers released Monday for fiscal 2002-03 show a small overall increase in collections from the previous year, but a 4.6 percent decline in retail receipts.
Gilbert, which adds an estimated 1,000 new residents a month, collected $29.3 million from its 1.5-cent sales tax during the 12-month period that ended June 30. This is a 0.6 percent increase from the $29.1 million collected in 2001-02.
Forty percent of Gilbert’s 2002-03 sales tax collections is from retail purchases. But the $11.9 million collected was a decline of $576,230 from the previous fiscal year.
"With the way the economy has been the last year, it doesn’t surprise me," Vice Mayor Larry Morrison said.
Town officials have cited a number of reasons for the decline — a poor economy, the loss of tax dollars to surrounding communities and the lack of a freeway, which can attract major sales tax generators such as regional malls, auto malls and power centers.
Figures for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2004, will include retail receipts from two Kohl’s Department Store locations set to open in October. Fiscal 2004-05 is expected to include more power centers, including a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam’s Club near Williams Field and Greenfield roads.
The town is also planning for a regional mall and auto mall along the San Tan Freeway stretch of Loop 202, expected to open in late 2006.
"We should grow significantly," Morrison said.
Retail was the only category with a revenue decline in 2002-03. Areas that saw increases included utilities, construction and wholesale goods.
Jumps in construction, utilities and rent collections are expected in a fast-growing town. According to a U.S. Census report released this month, Gilbert had the nation’s highest growth rate — 25 percent — between April 2000 and July 2002 among municipalities of more than 100,000.
In Scottsdale, 2002-03 overall sales tax collections were down 1 percent from the previous year. Final 2002-03 figures for Chandler, Mesa and Tempe have not been released.