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GRT collections exceed city’s expectations

In this June 2, 2019 file photo, Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb is seen reviewing budget numbers with members of the City Council. Neeb has asked city staff to put together a detailed analysis of GRT collections for next month’s Finance Committee meeting. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Despite expectations of lower gross receipts taxes due to the pandemic, the city of Roswell collected a higher-than-budgeted amount in July. Lodgers’ tax and convention center fee collections continue to be low but showed an upward trend from a month ago, according to reports presented in Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting.

The city budgeted for just under $1.9 million in GRT for July, but collected just over $3 million — a difference of about $1.1 million.

“We’ve never gone through a similar situation so it’s hard to predict what the trend is going to be. The good thing is we received more than we anticipated,” Director of Administrative Services Ron Fuentes said.

The July report reflects gross receipts taxes collected in May, when many businesses and services deemed nonessential were still closed or restricted under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s health order.

It was the second month in a row GRT was higher than budgeted since March. June’s numbers were almost $16,000 higher than budgeted.

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City Manager Joe Neeb said he has asked city staff to put together a more detailed analysis of GRT collections for next month’s Finance Committee meeting using the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration’s RP-500 report, which shows collections by industry.

“Even though the numbers are nice, we’re seeing the numbers come from other sources than what were normal sources for us. We want to understand that shifting of funds because as we continue through this response, you’ll see those numbers adjust even farther,” Neeb said.

Tourism Manager Stephanie Mervine presented the report on lodgers’ tax and convention center fee collections, which also reflected activity from May.

The city collected $44,713 in lodgers’ tax, about 65% lower than a year previous.

Convention center fee collection was $28,433 compared to $62,548 in 2019.

While down from year-to-year reports, the numbers were an increase from the previous month when the lodgers’ tax collection was $32,867 and the convention center fee was $20,045.

“In this time of COVID, it’s progress,” Mervine said.

The city has not reached the state’s limit of 50% for room night occupancy, however. Occupancy in May was 23.6%.

“Roswell is sitting just below the average for the state,” Mervine said.

“The hotels are trying very hard. Some are doing better than others. They’re getting creative with their business model. They have to to survive. But Roswell as a hotel market is fairing better than some of the other places in the country, so that’s a plus,” Mervine said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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