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The City Café

For those interested in sharing ideas and perspectives regarding local government.

Session Wrap-up 2014


The 2014 edition is user friendly, insightful and in-depth (or so we hope).  ULCT did NOT print this year’s edition; instead, you can download the book, read about each bill that impacted local government, and review an index of ULCT daily emails from the 2014 session.  Each page explains what the bill did, how Team ULCT responded, what the future trends are on the issue, and links to when we referenced that bill in a daily email.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions and we hope that this review will be useful.

Click here for the LPC agenda 

Here are the latest salient economic indicators from ULCT economist Doug Macdonald:


Utah’s 1% local sales tax of $36.92 million in January 2014 (representing November 2013 sales) was 0.5% lower than the $37.11 million distributed a year earlier.     For the the first five months of fiscal year 2015, local sales tax distributions are up 4.8%.  But during the last three months the growth rate has slipped to 2.8%.

In contrast, retail sales nationally increased 4.7% in November.  U.S. new car and truck sales rose 8.9% in November 2014. 

Utah’s economy may have slowed a bit more due to layoffs by the federal government due to the impending shutdown.  Utah’s employment growth rate slipped from 3% in the summer months to 2.2% in November.  Total construction values in 17 Wasatch Front & Back counties fell 3.5% between September and November compared to a year earlier.  In Salt Lake County, residential construction rose almost 7%, while commercial construction fell 64%, driving a 24% total decline in new construction.

Salt Lake City’s distribution fell 0.7% in January.  Sandy’s distribution fell 6.2%, suggesting an almost 12% decline in sales for November.  On the plus side, Draper’s distribution rose 6.2% and Murray and Midvale’s rose 4.5%.

In Utah and Weber County, city distributions rose between 1% and 2% in January.  Utah County’s distribution for its .25% tax inexplicably fell 7.4%.

In Davis County, distributions for Bountiful, Clearfield and Layton rose 5.8 to 5.9%.  Farmington’s distribution rose almost 30%, implying a direct sales increase of 60.3%.

St. George’s distribution rose 3.4%, implying a 7.3% increase in November sales.


Click for full forecast2014 Economic Update

Dec '13 Sales Tax DistDOUG MACDONALD

December’s distribution at $36.87 million, representing sales from October, was up 4.3% from a year earlier.

Salt Lake City’s sales were up 3.4%, below the statewide average. Other cities in Salt Lake County that did better than the statewide average were: Sandy (6.5%), Murray (5.2%), Midvale (8.8%), and Draper (10.1%).

This month we also calculated the “imputed” direct sales for the month, a number we computed going backwards with the 50% population / 50 % point-of-sale formula.

Based on this calculation direct sales growth were:

SLC  2.5%

Sandy 8.8%

Murray 6.2%

Midvale 13.7%

Draper 15.9%.

We thought October sales would have been soft given that consumer confidence in the U.S. slipped to 73.2 from 77.5 in September 2013.  There was a foreboding edge in the air due to the government shutdown.  Nevertheless, U.S. consumers increased their purchases of new automobiles and light trucks by 10.6% in October.

Since Washington DC came to terms with their budget in December, we are feeling quite a bit better about the February distribution for December sales.


The November distribution, which came out last week and represents taxable sales for September 2013, was up 4.5% compared to a year earlier.  Statewide distribution totals were $44.31 million, up from $42.40 million in November 2012.  For the first three months of fiscal year 2014, the statewide 1% local sales tax is up 6.1%, fairly close to our forecast of 6.5% (which assume no more major fiscal problems due to the federal debt ceiling and budget).  The 6-month growth rate is almost 3% lower at 3.8%, suggesting that a realistic forecast still ranges between the low 2.4% pessimistic and 6.5% baseline scenarios.

Distributions among Utah’s major cities range between -3.6% (Tooele) and +15.3% (Farmington) in November.  In Salt Lake County, South Jordan’s distribution was up 7.6%, in contrast with its 3-month growth rate of 1.4%.  Draper’s distribution was up 5.1% in November and 12.4% for the first three months of fiscal year 2014.  Salt Lake City’s distribution rose 4.6% and it’s year-to-date growth is up 6.1% from last year.

Nov Sales Tax 2013

In Utah County, Orem led with a 6.6% gain, followed by Lehi at 4.8%.  Fiscal year totals ranged from 7.0% to 7.9% for Provo, Orem and Lehi.

In Davis County, the two largest cities, Layton and Bountiful, saw respective increases of 5.8% and 5.4%.

St. George distribution was up 7.5%, partially due to its housing recovery.

November Distribution 2013



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