The County Cubicle: Having fun with county use tax

Editor’s note: In an effort to keep residents informed on happenings within county government, county employees will contribute biweekly articles for “The County Cubicle.”
These articles may include responses to reader questions or expression of interest. Readers are encouraged to submit questions or suggestions to County Administrator Pat Hooker at 878-9436 or

The day Oly dreaded arrived a couple weeks ago. He could no longer put off the indoor bathroom project his wife Lena had been nagging him about for 20 years. He had run out of excuses, so he went to the building department and got a permit. Just getting the permit got him his favorite supper, goulash! Maybe building an indoor bathroom wouldn’t be as bad as he thought.
A couple days later, Oly received a use tax packet from Debbie Morlan, the county’s sales and use tax administrator.
He was somewhat overwhelmed, so he called Miss Debbie. Like Lena’s six-alarm chili, there are a few things Oly just can’t digest. Ms. Morlan explained that if he purchased construction and building materials in his own county, he’d pay 2.9 percent state sales tax and 3.6 percent county sales tax for a total of 6.5 percent. Lena had her heart set on a flamingo-pink soaking tub though and Oly didn’t think he’d be able to find it in town. He was told that if he had to purchase the tub in Grand Junction, he could use the use tax certificate included in the packet so he wouldn’t have to pay 4.75 percent Grand Junction sales tax. He could save the receipt for the tub and pay Rio Blanco County’s 3.6 percent use tax instead. Uffda! Even Oly could figure out this would save him some bucks.
Rio Blanco County’s use tax was established 30 years ago for county residents when they had to shop out of town for building materials. The purpose is to funnel sales tax revenue back to Rio Blanco County, where the construction was taking place. Oly would have to agree he’d rather have his tax dollars paving roads and aiding his own county. When Oly told Lena about all the bucks they were saving in tax, she started carrying on about the fancy vinyl flooring she wants and making some naugahyde curtains. She said she is going to tell everyone in her knitting club. You can bet all of Oly’s friends down at the coffee shop will have a bunch of new projects to do.
Oly’s going to need a lot more than Lena’s goulash to get through this project.
To hear more about Oly and Lena and use tax, Debbie Morlan can be reached at 878-9610.