Local economy moves forward

City sees increase in sales-tax revenues over last year

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— Sales taxes seemed to defy expectations in October as the city saw a 4-percent increase in sales-tax revenues from last October. Pushed in part by auto dealerships offering 0 percent financing deals after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, local retail operations moved the local economy forward in October.

The city took in a total of $751,834 this October in sales-tax revenues as compared to $722,637 last October.

The tourist economy, never particularly strong in October, may have slumped a bit as revenues from accommodations taxes, which are collected on lodging and used for tourist amenities, went down about 0.8 percent.

City Council President Kathy Connell, the owner of a property management company, urged the city to be wary of increases or seemingly flat numbers in accommodations tax revenues given the recent increase in the number of beds available in Steamboat.

"An increase in the number of beds means less money (per owner)," Connell said. "I just don't want us to get into a false sense of security on that."

Building use taxes, charged on building materials, also fell off in October, dropping by about 9 percent from last year. The building slowdown has not shown up on the year-to-date, however, as the city has taken in 18 percent more than last year.

Overall, the city did a good deal better than expected in October and, indeed, better than other resort towns in Colorado, which generally fell off by double-digit percentages from last year's numbers, said Finance Director Don Taylor.

"We rely less on tourism than some of the other resort areas," Taylor said.

Sales-tax revenues for the year to date are up 5.45 percent over last year, higher than the city's expectations of 4 percent.

Although local businesses in the city may have fared pretty well so far in the wake of Sept. 11, the big months are coming up, with December being the month potentially most drastically affected by the terrorist attacks and the resulting fall-off in tourism.

Taylor said initial reports from the business community are favorable for November and December, with projected 12 percent drop-offs in sales-tax revenues seemingly less likely to materialize.

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