Tax revenue increase driven by construction, vehicles
Construction projects and more motor vehicle purchases contributed to an about 9 percent increase in taxable retail sales in Skagit County for the first fiscal quarter of 2018, according to a Department of Revenue news release.
From January to March, sales were 8.8 percent greater than the first quarter of 2017, according to department data.
Construction sales rose $32 million, from $80 million to $112 million.
James McCafferty, co-director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University, said a few big construction projects are enough to cause a large increase in taxable retail sales in low-density counties such as Skagit.
“If you start with a smaller base, it doesn’t take as much of a dollar amount to make a percent change,” McCafferty said.
The construction of hotels and multifamily housing buildings could impact the percentage, he said.
Brad Johnson, senior planner for Burlington, said the city has a few such projects, including two hotels, an apartment complex and a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing building.
Sales of motor vehicles and parts rose about $10 million from $140 million to $150 million.
This industry has long been a mainstay of Skagit County revenue, said John Sternlicht, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County.
“We are fortunate because we sell a few of those big ticket items so we make a lot of money off cars, RVs and boats new and used,” he said. “Those are big money makers so they generate a lot of tax revenue.”
Lower taxes than neighboring counties and a concentration of dealers make Skagit County a good place to buy a car, said Hart Hodges, co-director at the center.
Accommodations and food service also continue to be money-makers for Skagit County, bringing in $59 million in the first quarter of 2018 — up $4 million from the first quarter of 2017.