NV Sales Up but April Tax Revenues Down

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada merchants notched a slight uptick in business in April, with the state reporting taxable sales totaling $3.9 billion, up 0.3 percent over the same month a year earlier.

The increase reported by the state Taxation Department was the first year-to-year increase since October 2007, and represented a rare glint of good economic news in a state where lawmakers cut spending and made budget moves Friday to address a $275 million deficit.

Gross revenue collections from sales and use taxes amounted to $288 million for April 2008, down 2.3 percent compared to April 2007.

The state's 2 percent share of that amount, some $77.7 million, was down 0.4 percent from $78 million a year earlier.

Gov. Jim Gibbons issued a cautious statement, saying the April sales tax figures still reflected a sluggish economy.

But he pointed to indicators of growth in commercial construction in southern Nevada, a 16.2 percent increase in taxes on accommodations representing tourist activity, and what he called "cautious consumer purchases within select categories."

The Taxation Department said April 2008 sales were down in nine of the state's 17 counties, including Washoe, which takes in Reno. But sales were up 0.2 percent in Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas.

Statewide, sales in the construction industry were up 13.2 percent, merchant wholesales of durable goods were up 7.9 percent, clothing and accessories store sales were up 5.3 percent, and food and beverage store sales were up 3.6 percent.

Motor vehicle sales were down a whopping 20.3 percent, while home furniture and furnishings sales were down 13.1 percent.

The report put the state's cut of sales taxes so far this fiscal year at just over $800 million, down 3.3 percent from the previous fiscal year.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)