Grand Forks Sales Tax, March 2018

The March 2018 release came out and did not provide a ton of good news. The new data represents events of January 2018 and therefore pushes us through the entire holiday season. The March 2018 data was down 4.79% from the March 2017. The first quarter of 2018 declined 6.02% from the first quarter of 2017. The city likes to report a rolling 12 month total. For those that do not know, this means they look at the total for the last twelve months and as a new month is added they drop the oldest month. The city suggests this is more accurate, though I am not clear what the term accuracy implies here. The rolling 12-month total generally crosses multiple fiscal years so it is not really reflective of a specific budget year which would be something like calendar year accumulations. The other issue is this measure is down 19 of the last 20 months.

If it were my decision the two observations I would use would be a comparison of a given month to the same month the year before and the calendar year accumulation to the year same period the year before. The rolling 12 month number is in a seeming perpetual decline. 

In fact, this number is down in percentage terms (year-over-year) for 19 of the last 20 months! From my perspective this measure is not so much more accurate as it is more stable, though I question the virtues of stability when the information may not effectively inform a policy decision.

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