Spike in Sarpy's County's taxable sales attributed to Black Hills Energy

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Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:00 am

Those who follow net taxable sales reports in Sarpy County may have been puzzled at first glance by an overall 21 percent increase in taxable sales for the first half of the year compared with the first half of 2012.

The spike showed up on the monthly county and city reports compiled by the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

That's a hefty gain, particularly because the cities of Bellevue, Gretna, La Vista and Springfield reported net taxable sales gains ranging from 3 percent to 13 percent during the period, not enough to raise the county average more than 20 percent from January to June.

The heavy hitter was Papillion, which reported monthly increases in net taxable sales ranging from 125 percent in January to 46 percent in May. The gains leveled off at 8.5 percent in June.

Retail and commercial growth is on the upswing in Papillion and Sarpy County, but it's not as though a new shopping center has opened its doors, as was the case in 2007 when net taxable sales jumped after the opening of Shadow Lake Towne Center.

As it turns out, the gains are the result of the relocation of a “regional energy provider,” said Darren Carlson, a spokesman for the City of Papillion. “You're seeing these spikes because of all their sales. It's a wintertime spike” that corresponds with the area's heating season. “It doesn't impact us,” Carlson said, meaning the city won't benefit from the increased revenue stream.

Pinpointing the source isn't easy because the State Revenue Department doesn't require individual companies to report taxable sales to their respective cities.

However, in mid-2011, Black Hills Corp. relocated its Omaha office to Papillion. The energy provider also has corporate offices in Rapid City, S.D., and Denver.

Black Hills spokeswoman Brandy Johnson confirmed that “all of the sales tax we collect from our Nebraska customers is being reported through our address in Sarpy County.” Sales tax revenue had previously been reported through its former Omaha office, Johnson said.

City and county officials do hope a portion of the gains may be due to a change in residents' behavior and the county's expanding retail offerings.

“You don't have to leave Sarpy County anymore to get what you need, ” Carlson said.

“We've created opportunities to shop here and seek entertainment here,” Carlson said. “We lack a movie theater and a hotel, but that's coming,” he said, referring to this month's announcement that a 110-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott will be constructed at Midlands Place, near 84th Street and Nebraska Highway 370.

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