City sales tax revenue takes dip

Earnings drop 3.79 percent

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— City sales tax revenue took a dip in August after rebounding in July.

Sales tax revenue dropped 3.79 percent from the money collected in August of last year and that number pushed year-to-date collection back to .335 percent less than the year before. August brought in $1.17 million with a total of $9.76 million for the entire year.

Strong tourism in July had sales tax collection surpass last year's year-to-date number for the first time in 2002. July had a 2.65 percent increase over the previous July and was .6 percent higher overall.

But Sandy Evans-Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said nearby wildfires slowed summer tourism in August. The smoke that drifted down to the Front Range convinced people to stay away from Steamboat.

"That really hurt us for the last couple of weekends," Evans-Hall said. "Even when it was clear here, smoke was very, very heavy on the Front Range. Fort Collins down to Denver was impacted from the smoke and they assumed we were as well."

Evans-Hall said the month began strong with Triple Crown in town and other planned events, but took a turn on Aug. 15 when the wildfires picked up.

Even with the fires, she said the numbers were still better than she expected, which she had predicted would be down 5 percent to 10 percent. Evans-Hall pointed to the accommodation tax that was down by just 1.51 percent from last August.

"From what we saw in the lodging barometer, we definitely thought things were going to be down. We were actually pleased they were only down somewhat," Evans-Hall said.

City Finance Director Don Taylor said the August numbers might be low in comparison to 2001 but are still higher than 2000 and 1999. And July, he said, was a major jump from the years before.

"You have to look at these numbers over several years before you jump to conclusions," Taylor said.

With Labor Day weekend numbers in, Evans-Hall said lodging was strong for hotels along U.S. 40 and downtown but down in the condo area. She also said local events like the rodeo and concerts were well attended.

"We did a pretty good job of putting together an event. The smoke had cleared up and people came up here pretty last minute. They drove up Friday and stayed Friday, Saturday and Sunday night," Evans-Hall said.

She said September and October numbers should remain fairly constant to last year and that the number of hunting licenses bodes well for tourism throughout the fall.

Sales tax revenue might be lagging just slightly behind last year, but the city revenues are down drastically in terms of its building use tax.

The $98,000 collected in August was down 62.7 percent from August 2001. The year-to-date collection is down 61.9 percent from last year at this time.

By August of last year, $1 million had been collected compared to $400,000 this year.

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