Eclipse raises county sales

Humboldt County showed an increase in taxable sales over previous year figures. Humboldt County Comptroller Gina Rackley said sales relating to the solar eclipse likely caused the uptick.

The areas associated with tourism – restaurants, retail stores, food and beverage stores, for instance – all had significant increases in sales in August. Rackley said “the only reasonable response would be that our guests that traveled through and stopped in our community played a role in our positive August CTX report.”

To show how significant eclipse-related sales were, Rackley said the area traditionally highest in sales, Mining and Support for Mining, showed significant decreases, but the month showed an overall increase in sales that made up for it.

Except for a “blip” in February 2017, revenue from taxable sales in the county has steadily decreased month after month since July 2013. The county saw a high in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012/2013 of $14,864,771. FY 2016/2017 showed only 8,507,687, a loss of over $6 million.

“This drop on average of $1.5 million dollars a year in [Humboldt County’s] largest single form of revenue creates very tight restraints on all of our budgeting and expenditures,” Rackley explained.

Rackley said Motor Vehicles and Parts Dealers, Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores and Electronics and Appliance Stores also showed positive increases. These types of stores are usually locally-owned. “It always pleases me to see positive figures in those areas,” she said.

Unfortunately, a solar eclipse doesn’t provide for a consistent stream of tourism sales, and August’s positive CTX report might be another “blip” like February. “Until I see 3 to 4 months in a positive then I will remain in my conservative approach that we need to remain prepared for continued decline in revenues,” Rackley concluded.