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Latest tax report gives Santa Fe’s economy a boost

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Things are looking up for the city of Santa Fe, at least financially speaking.

For the first time since before the pandemic hit, the city’s monthly total of gross receipts tax revenue grew compared with the same month last year. February GRT revenues climbed by 9% over those of the same month in 2020, totaling more than $261 million.

“I think it’s very good news,” Budget Officer Alexis Lotero told reporters Monday.

City officials said it’s an especially encouraging sign because businesses didn’t start closing until March 2020. GRT reports are released on a two-month delay, and city officials are expecting even better news when data for March and April is released.

February is also Santa Fe’s lowest-performing month for GRT every year, City Financial Planning Officer Bradley Fluetsch said, meaning total revenues will probably rise over the coming months.

Retail, recreation and manufacturing industries all posted huge increases in sales. Fluetsch said an increase in tourism and shopping is a positive sign as the number of fully vaccinated people continues to grow.

It’s a stark contrast from the city’s position last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought tourism and other industries to a halt, rapidly shrinking the city’s revenue.

Gross receipts tax revenue accounts for about 70% of the city’s total budget, a huge number typically filled by Santa Fe’s large tourism industry. But when New Mexico shut down in the first weeks of the pandemic, that revenue dried up, seemingly overnight.

Now, it appears that Santa Fe’s fortunes might start improving. But Mayor Alan Webber said Santa Fe must remain cautious, because the county has had a slight increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

“All of this is contingent upon not having another spike,” Webber said.