Storey County Taxable Sales Are Down in April
The Nevada Department of Taxation released the taxable sales figures last week and they indicate a troubling trend. Storey County Taxable Sales Are Down in April, 2018 and this is the fourth consecutive monthly decline. So far this fiscal year, Storey County’s Taxable Sales are down 13.86% from the previous year. As we reported earlier, the record 1.6 billion dollars of Taxable Sales in FY16-17 within Storey County netted the county very little in terms of real income as almost all of the taxes collected were from Tesla and Switch whose taxes were abated at 100% and 75% respectively.
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, Store Retailers, Non-store Retailers, and Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing were among the steepest decliners, while Primary Metal Manufacturing and Machinery Manufacturing enjoyed substantial increases in sales.
Sales taxes are not the only form of income collected by the county. Property taxes collected at TRIC are on the rebound since the recession, and personal property taxes are also bouncing back. However, the fact that our taxable sales are dropping should be concerning to County Officials. The sales taxes reflect the life-blood of the county; they represent the actions of the transactions. To see them flatten out and now drop is a sign that regardless of the promise of new business, the existing businesses are slowing down.
In the past four months, Storey County sales taxes collected are $341.7 million dollars less than last year during the same period. Taxes collected are $179.5 million below last year’s record pace.
Ice Cream And Lollipops Gush Down C Street
The Comstock Comical reported some positive aspects of the Storey County economic picture in their July 13th episode. Building permits are climbing according to the Comical. And business licenses are up as well. The Comical reports 220 new businesses have opened up in the past year. And Pat Whitten says that there are an additional 13 new homes under construction.
However, the big deal continues to be Tesla. Construction at the Tesla “Gigaplant” (a new term coined by the Comical), required over 198 plan reviews. And there are other companies expanding at TRIC.
But the most telling quotes from the Comical’s article were from none other than Storey County Commissioner Lance Gilman. Gilman indicated that there are 5 multi-million homes under construction in Minden Gardnerville by Tesla Executives. And he says that TRIC is the “Driving force in Reno/Tahoe. Not long ago, 2,000 homes were being foreclosed on every month (in the region). Now we can’t build them fast enough.”
Things Are Good All Over!
To be sure, the economy is growing. With the Tax Cuts that Republicans enacted earlier in the year, companies are expanding Capital Expenditures, increasing wages and jobs, and moving in the right direction. Unemployment numbers (although not reflective of actual unemployment reality) are as low as they have been in many years. The Stock Market is enjoying a remarkable run. Out at TRIC, it is truly impressive to see the action that will almost certainly pay dividends for Storey County in the future. But we can’t eat tomorrows dinner tonight. And the most telling part of Commissioner Gilman’s quote is that TRIC is a driving force in Reno Tahoe.
But where is that force driving us? The average cost of a median home in Washoe County is $ 370,000 while a starting job at Panasonic and Tesla is around $18.00 an hour. The astonishing lack of affordable housing in the area is forcing TRIC line workers to live in Fernley, Fallon, and Silver Springs. Not everyone working at TRIC can afford a $5 million house. In fact, as we reported in our first weekly TWIT (This Week In Tesla) Report, the lower income folks in Washoe County have a new term for this force that is driving them into homelessness – Getting Tesla’d.
Look around and you can see the impact TRIC is having. More cars, more houses, more knuckleheads from California. As with everything in life, some people are winning and some people are losing. We know Commissioner Gilman and the big money he represents have done nothing but win. But what about the rest of us? The takeaway for Storey County residents: How is any of this benefiting our communities?
Did We Get Tesla’d?
Clearly, the cash burn that has engulfed Tesla is remarkable. Just as clearly, Tesla’s cash burn has affected Story County directly. As we reported, The FY18-19 budget is $1.7 million in the red in large part to Tesla. As of this date, Tesla still has not renewed our service agreement. Depending on who you believe, Tesla will either be the most amazingly transformational company in the known universe, or it will be just the opposite. Regardless, the financial picture remains guarded. According to Storey County’s Budget, we will take in less revenue in FY18-19 than we did before Tesla broke ground.
Fortunately, Storey County Voters have the opportunity to change things up. In November, we will be able to choose between two candidates who represent the second step (this was the first) in removing the straglehold the Good ‘ol Boys have had around our necks since I was a kid. These candidates represent a clear break from the status quo and business as usual.
But the candidates are very different from each other. We need to make sure we pick the one with the courage, experience and resolve to stand up for the people of Storey County and against the special interest of the big money. I urge voters to carefully inspect each candidate and see who has what it takes to protect us from big money and special interests.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre
Disclosure: Sam Toll is on Nicole Barde’s Campaign Committee. Nicole Barde is running for Storey County Commissioner.