Gross receipts down

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

City officials say it's hard to pinpoint why gross receipts in May were down $7.9 million from five years ago, because gross receipts vary by month.

"It's variable by month and the variability is affected by how quickly businesses report their receipts," said Portales Finance Director Marilyn Rapp.

She said some of the local economy's biggest drivers for gross receipts include the construction and retail industries. The manufacturing industry is also a large driver. Other industries have also seen a decline in the last few years, she said.

A downturn of the nation's economy began in 2007 and Rapp said we're still in a recession.

According to Rapp, construction was 18 percent of collection in 2006-2007 fiscal year and 15 percent this recent fiscal year, which ended in June.

Portales Planning Director Sammy Standefer said he hasn't seen a huge difference in the number of building permits his office issues within the last five years.

"It's hard to say construction contributed to any of that (decline in gross receipts)," Standefer said.

He added that not all of the building construction paperwork in Portales goes through his office.

"I can't permit state or university work, those are state permits," Standefer said, citing Eastern New Mexico University dorm construction as a large project that generates gross receipts. "The larger the project you would think the more gross receipts it generates."

In all, he said they actually wrote more permits this fiscal year than in the 2006-2007 year.

Mike Parkey, general services director at Portales Municipal Airport, said the condition of the economy plays a large factor in the decline of their operations over the last year.

"Fuel prices went up and no one's spending money on play stuff anymore," Parkey said.

General aviation operation and military operation have declined at the airport over the last year.

The number of military operations in June 2011 were four times more than that of 2012, dropping from 120 to 30 operations.

Parkey says operation numbers were up overall in July but can't say if it's a change in the economy or just a random spike. He added that the drought has also brought down agriculture operations.

Parkey says he doesn't expect the airport to close down for low operation numbers. He said if the airport were to ever close down, it would be from legislation that pushes for landing fees.

"If they ever do landing fees that will pretty much shut us down," Parkey said.

Buz Goodson, owner of Bar G Western and Casual Wear in Portales, said the gross receipts numbers for the retail industry did not reflect how his business performs and said business has been better overall within the last five years.

According to New Mexico's Taxation and Revenue department, November 2011 produced some of the worst retail gross receipts in Portales for the fiscal year. Goodson said November is one of his best months.

"We have a successful black Friday sale in November," Goodson said. He added that 35 percent of sales for the year are collected in the months of November and December.

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