Sales tax revenue up in July

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— Sales tax revenue bounced back in July after the city had the worst month for sales tax collection in years.

Released this week, July's sales tax revenue increased by 2.65 percent from last year and brought in $1.2 million. Those numbers brought the year-to-date collection to $8.6 million, which is .6 percent more than the amount at the seven-month mark in 2001.

"It's the first time we've moved into the plus territory for a year-to-year basis," City Finance Director Don Taylor said.

July was a significant improvement over June, which had a 7 percent drop from the year before, the largest decrease any month had in more than five years.

Although sales tax collection is about $500 ahead of last year, the city has taken a big cut in revenue through its building use tax. July had a 62.72 percent decrease from 2001 with a collection of just $40,737. The year before, July brought in $109,263.

With a 66 percent decrease in the year-to-date total, the building use tax revenue has steadily declined throughout the year. The city has collected $593,568 less than the $899,680 accumulated by last July.

Sandy Evans-Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the decrease in construction would continue.

"We are still seeing construction down. It does have an impact on the whole value (of tax collection) and that will be more evident in August and September," Evans-Hall said.

But she also said the chamber was pleased with July's sales tax numbers.

"I think we are very thrilled to see the increase after the decrease in June. We felt July would be strong because of Triple Crown, Rainbow Weekend and Fourth of July," Evans-Hall said.

With July being the biggest month for business during the summer season, Evans-Hall noted that while retail saw a large gain in sales, lodging was up just slightly.

The accommodation tax was up by 1.42 percent over last July with $52,563 collected, a little more than a $1,000 increase from last year.

Miscellaneous retail and liquor store sales increased significantly, while restaurants and lodging numbers increased only slightly, sporting goods sales remained even and utilities dropped.

With nearby wildfires increasing and sending smoke down to the Front Range at the end of July and into August, Evans-Hall predicts a decline in sales tax revenue for the past two months.

"I think it will be less than last year's from the reports of the business community," Evans-Hall said. "I don't think it will be in the double-digits, but somewhere around 5 percent."

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