Santa Fe economy bounces back from pandemic

·3 min read

Nov. 27—The city of Santa Fe had a strong September financially, continuing its bounce-back from the perils of the pandemic.

Gross receipt tax revenue jumped to $11.8 million in September 2021, after dropping by 16 percent from $10.8 million in September 2019 to $9.1 million one year later, according to a memo to the city's Finance Committee from planning and investment officer Bradley Fluetsch.

The city has received $36 million in gross receipt tax revenue during the first three months of this fiscal year — about 33 percent of the total projected GRT budget of $108.9 million — far outpacing expectations.

"You can't expect this to go on indefinitely," Mayor Alan Webber said. "But it just demonstrates the strength of the recovery and how active Santa Fe is in term of our economy coming back."

Gross receipt tax — one of the primary sources of revenue for the city's general fund, which pays for the city's day-to-day operations — also indicates how businesses are faring.

Finance Director Mary McCoy could not be reached for comment, but shortly after the fiscal year 2022 budget passed in April, she said she was cautiously optimistic about the city's GRT recovery.

According to the memo, local businesses generated $379 million in taxable gross receipts in September 2021, compared with $316 million in September 2019 and $281 million September 2020.

Five industries in Santa Fe — retail trade; accommodation and food services; construction; professional, scientific and technical services; and arts, entertainment and recreation — make up 70 percent of all taxable gross receipts, with retail trade the single largest contributor at 33 percent.

According to the memo, the accommodation and food services sector pulled in $58.2 million in taxable gross receipts in September 2021, a 80.4 percent jump over September 2020 and 10 percent more than in September 2019.

Retail trade generated $115.7 million in taxable gross receipts, compared with $86.7 million in September 2020 and $86.6 million September 2019.

Construction also saw a boost, generating $45.7 million in September 2021, compared with $43.9 million during September 2019. Professional, scientific and technical services increased by 40 percent compared with September 2019.

The arts, entertainment and recreation sector generated $4.3 million in September, an 11.6 percent leap over 2019 and a whopping 241.4 percent increase compared with September 2020.

Webber said the city intends to use the extra GRT funds — the city also received a $2.4 million settlement from the state over improper GRT dispersals — to help bring in and retain city workers, pointing to a number of budget-adjustment resolutions in the works with the Finance Department.

Highlights include:

* A $2.7 million budget adjustment to fund employee retention and hiring incentives.

$321,623 to fund salary increases for construction inspectors and construction inspector supervisors and to fund an unfunded assistant land use director position and senior planner position, as well as to create a full-time engineer position.

* $205,000 to fund a full-time navigator, three park rangers and a part-time custodian to operate a mobile hygiene unit for the unsheltered, as well as operating costs.

* $72,330, including salary and benefits, to fund an unfunded chief of staff position.

* $120,433 to fund salary increases for street maintenance and operations positions to help with recruitment.

"Now we have both the demand, the need and the money to fill and fund those positions," Webber said.

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