Gross receipts delight city officials

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

If the measure is gross receipts tax collection — business has been good in Portales for the last six months.

Collections have outperformed the amount budgeted by the city of Portales by 23 percent or $244,058. That was a rosy enough figure to prompt city staff to ask for a mid-year budget adjustment allowing a 3 percent cost of living raises for city staff and other waiting projects to be accomplished.

“We think this is a great success story for us from the way our gross receipts was going,” City Treasurer Marilyn Rapp said.
Rapp said she and City Manager Debi Lee take a conservative approach to budgeting revenues, preferring to make mid-year projects upward than to be scrambling for money in January.

Monthly comparisons show gross receipt (sales tax) rebates only dipped below budget in July and January. Figures reported in those months actually reflect sales two months previous, according to Rapp. The two biggest categories reported are retail sales and construction.

Rapp said pinpointing the reasons for the increase isn’t easy, however, she pointed to construction at Eastern New Mexico University, Yucca Telecom’s fiber optic project and the expansion at the DairiConcepts plant as contributors.

Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharon King agreed business expansions were a major factor.

“I can’t help but think part of it comes from all the businesses that have expanded recently,” King said.

She noted Ashley Furniture, which expanded last year, and the new Holiday Inn as examples of increased business in Portales. She noted several smaller businesses that contributed as well.

“I think it’s probably a sign of how strong our economy is in the county and how willing people are to invest in business here,” King said.

Rapp and King say more growth is inevitably on the horizon with the new mission and expansion at Cannon Air Force Base. Both say that they expect the largest part of that growth in 2008, though.

The city is also using the windfall to build up reserves, Rapp said. She points out that if Cannon growth is rapid, the need for services could outpace the revenue and she wants the city to be ready.

“Retail sales are up, construction is up, and that’s a sign you’re growing,” Rapp said. “I think the future’s bright for Portales.”