Car sales bounce back in Sonoma County

There's a phrase economists often say: If you want to see the economy improve, go shopping. That often seems like a rationale to embark on a self-indulgent shopping spree. But in the case of new car sales, it really did ring true last year.

Take Petaluma. That city brought in enough money last year from the sales tax on new cars to pay for its entire parks and recreation department, and still had a little left over.

A sharp increase in car sales across Sonoma County has sent a surge of tax revenue to local government agencies, while prompting local dealers to begin hiring again.

New car sales in Sonoma County jumped 27 percent in 2012, giving dealers their best results in five years, according to AutoCount data from Experian Automotive.

Statewide growth of new car sales also was strong. The number of new vehicles sold in California rose 25.3 percent, well above the 13.4 percent increase nationwide, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.

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