City tax manager: Gilbert sales tax collections 'higher than we could have hoped for' in May

coronavirus, economy
Gilbert sales tax collections are off during the coronavirus pandemic but higher than anticipated, according to officials. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Gilbert sales tax collections are off during the coronavirus pandemic but higher than anticipated, according to officials. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Gilbert’s sales tax collection for May approached $8 million, putting the town less than $1 million away from its budgeted total for 2019-20 with a month to go in the fiscal year.

Gilbert collected $7.96 million in May, putting the town at $97.13 million for the year while it awaits reports on June collections. The town budgeted for $98 million in revenue from sales tax—formally known as transaction privilege tax—but was on pace for $109 million in collections before the coronavirus pandemic affected the economy, Budget Director Kelly Pfost said during budget discussions.

“They [the numbers] are higher than we could have hoped for, in all honestly, considering what happened to some of our neighbors,” Tax Compliance Manager Sara Radbury said.

Radbury said Scottsdale’s collections are off by 30% but noted Gilbert’s numbers through the pandemic, while off, have remained relatively steady.

May's collection is only about $71,352.20 off from May 2019. It is $919,060.92 less than April, which was the fourth-highest month for collections in the fiscal year.

The collections for the month represent what was sent to the town that month and generally reflect transactions conducted in the previous month.

Leading the way on Gilbert collections was construction contracting, which at $988,253.69 was up from the previous three months as well as May 2019.

Also performing better than expected were retail sales, the largest category. The town collected $5.19 million, up $323,506.88 from May 2019 but down $479,054.86 from April.

Radbury said surges in online sales and sales of food for home consumption helped drive the category—items that make sense, Radbury said, given the pandemic.

“If you needed to buy shoes in April because your shoes broke,” she said, “you bought them online instead of going to the store. The shopping just shifted.”

She said a similar thing happened with fewer people eating at restaurants and bars but more buying groceries.

Restaurant and bar collections totaled $556,863.59, down $58,900.25 from April and $219,868.64 from May 2019.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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