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Front Page » December 23, 2004 » Local News » Utah surplus tax revenues already exceed $92 million, whi...
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Utah surplus tax revenues already exceed $92 million, while state's budget year less than halfway concluded

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Utah's tax surplus has already exceeded the $92 million mark and the state's budget year isn't even halfway concluded.

The latest Utah Tax Commission monthly revenue report shows the state has accumulated almost as much extra cash through November as it did in the entire previous budget year, which ended June 30.

A proposed housing development on a Lehi ridge that would flank the new Cabela's store is raising some worried eyebrows in nearby neighborhoods.

Many people are concerned that Lehi might not be ready for this 225-acre project with 800 to 900 dwellings, 200 of which will be condominiums or duplexes.

In Provo, a local company that lost welders and machinists to Geneva Steel in the late 1980s wants the prodigals to come home.

Chicago Bridge and Iron will boost the workforce at its Provo plant from 40 to more than 100 by May.

An international company with more than 10,000 employees, CB&I won a contract in November to manufacture 150 massive steel support towers for wind turbines. They must deliver them between May 2005 and April 2006.

The Utah Transit Authority took a step toward finding funding for commuter rail to Davis County.

UTA board members unanimously approved issuing up to $175 million in sales tax and transportation revenue bonds to begin construction on the project.

Also, more money for roads and transit equals less congestion and a better quality of life. That is the equation Utah business leaders and state transportation planners have been pushing for the past six months.

But it looks as if lawmakers during the coming legislative session will hit the brakes on a mammoth transportation-funding package that includes tax increases.

In education, the University of Utah and Utah State University combined served more than 50,000 students, employed 25,429 and generated $2.1 billion in revenue for the year.

Close to 30 percent of the revenue came from patient services activity at the University of Utah's medical facilities.

Utah's Ute and Navajo tribes have a stake in the way the state taxes oil and gas drilling.

The tribes have an agreement with the state to use funds from reservation drilling to revitalize their land.

In Senate Bill 191, the Utah Legislature made some changes to the severance tax code and state lawmakers are studying the tax burden on drilling companies.

Tribal leaders have expressed some concern that by changing the tax code, the state would be changing the original agreement.

Nationally, consumer prices rose modestly in November as a surge in energy costs a month earlier moderated, noted the United States Labor Department.

The consumer price index, widely taken as a gauge of inflation risks, was up 0.2 percent as Wall Street economists had forecast after registering a 0.6 percent jump in October.

U.S. retail sales rose 0.1 percent in November. The U.S. Commerce Department revised up October's sales to a 0.8 percent increase from an initially reported 0.2 percent gain.

The U.S. trade gap widened nearly 9 percent in October to a record $55.5 billion as sky-high oil prices helped propel imports into new territory, while industrial output rose as expected in November.

October's unexpectedly large shortfall pushed the deficit tally for the first 10 months of 2004 to $500.5 billion, surpassing the record of $496.5 billion for all of 2003, reported the U.S. Commerce Department.

The nation's current account deficit grew to a record $164.7 billion in the third quarter, less than had been forecast, continued the U.S. Commerce Department said.

Closely watched by the currency markets, the current account deficit, the broadest measure of U.S. trade, grew by $318 million in the July-September period from a revised second quarter reading of $164.39 billion.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, encouraged by the economy's performance, boosted a key short-term interest rate by one-quarter percentage point, the fifth increase during 2004.

U.S. Federal Reserve policy-makers propped the door open to further increases into 2005.

Meanwhile, residential and commercial development in the next quarter-century will eclipse anything seen in previous generations as the nation moves to accommodate rapid population growth, according to a Brookings Institution report. The U.S. population is expected to increase 33 percent to 376 million by 2030. That's 94 million more people than in 2000. To serve that population, almost 60 million housing units will have to be built. About 20 million of these units will replace destroyed or aging homes.

General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG are throwing their combined weight behind a new hybrid technology for cars and trucks, setting the stage for what had been a niche product to spread to the mainstream for American consumers.

The prospect that Chinese exports will soon overwhelm the worldwide clothing market was thrown into doubt after Beijing announced it will tax its shipments of textiles and apparel once the global market is liberalized on Jan. 1.

The USA's financially ailing airlines likely will return to Washington early next year seeking relief from what they long have complained is an unfair tax burden. Prospects for significant relief are considered slim.

Attendance at North America's 50 most popular theme and amusement parks jumped almost 4 percent in 2004, the first overall increase since the 2001 terrorist attacks slowed the U.S. travel and tourism industry.

And finally, people looking for that next chocolate fix might find it a little bit more expensive after Hershey Food said it will raise wholesale prices to offset higher raw material and other production costs.

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