Utah economy rebounding as tax revenues grow

Utah economy rebounding as tax revenues grow

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is climbing out of the economic doldrums, with state revenues increasing nearly seven percent in fiscal year 2010-11, which ended June 30.

Data from the Utah State Tax Commission analyzed by Salt Lake-based Bonneville Research in its "Utah Economic Snapshot" showed that total state and local (on- property tax and fee revenues rose 6.7 percent or $410 million.

In addition, taxable retail sales jumped up $191 million or 13.6 percent, with individual income taxes increasing $121 million or 75.3 percent.

It tells us the economy is growing. We're climbing out of the trough. But - we're probably down from where we were in 2007 and 2008.

–Bob Springmeyer

While the figures do offer an improvement, it only tells part of the story, said Bonneville Research President Bob Springmeyer.

"It tells us the economy is growing," he said. "We're climbing out of the trough. But … we're probably down from where we were in 2007 and 2008."

With just a few exceptions, most state and local tax categories saw revenue increases, including individual income taxes — 75 percent or $121.2 million and cigarette taxes — up 132.7 percent or $56.9 million.

The total general revenue increase for the period was 16.4 percent or $269.7 million.

One of the top revenue generators over the past decade was the sale of adult beverages, the data show. Between 2000 and 2009, alcohol sales jumped a dramatic 94 percent, while the state's overall population grew just 25 percent.

Springmeyer said the increase was likely due to a combination of increased consumption along with the growing number of conventions, large-scale events like the Sundance Film Festival as well as increasing tourism consumption.

The data showed that last year, beer, wine and liquor sales contributed $27.9 million to the state's school lunch program and paid $14.8 million in sales taxes. State liquor store No. 15 in Cottonwood Heights recorded $16 million in 2010 sales with a net profit of $4.6 million, while store No. 36 on Swede Alley in Park City had $1.3 million in 2010 sales with a net profit of $200,000.

The average net profit from a state liquor store in 2010 was $1.75 million.

"They are moneymakers," Springmeyer said. "You've got some stores that (have sales in the $1,500 per square range)."

"That's the range you would find at Tiffany's," he commented. "A very, very good grocery store is going to be a third of that."

Overall, Springmeyer said the state's fiscal strength is progressing, albeit slowly.

"The economy is growing. Retail sales are looking better, income from employment is going to be up," he said. "Those are very good signals (that the) the economy is turning around in Utah."

Email: jlee@ksl.com

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