Despite increase, sales tax lags

November numbers jump across the board

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— November 2002 sales tax was up by more than 1 percent, but it was still not enough to pull the year-to-date total above 2001.

November numbers increased across the board for sales tax, accommodation tax and -- for the first time in more than a year --building tax.

Sandy Evans-Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the ski area's early opening and good snow helped revive the November numbers. The previous December, Ski Corp. postponed the opening of the ski area because of a lack of snow.

"The fact that the snow message was out there was the reason we did as well as we did," Evans-Hall said.

Sales tax increased by 1.03 percent from the previous November and brought in $734,163. That number was slightly lower than 2000, which at $734,644 had the strongest November sales tax numbers in five years.

Sales tax increased in all sectors. Lodging, sporting goods, utilities, restaurants and liquor stores were all higher than 2001. One of the biggest increases could have come from the utility sector. For the first time in more than a year, sales tax from utilities increased.

The accommodation tax increased by 22 percent to $7,909, but that was actually less than a $1,500 increase.

For the first time all year, building-use tax took a gigantic leap.

It increased by more than 200 percent with November gathering $55,529 in revenue.

Because of November's small numbers, the 1 percent sales-tax increase was not enough to pull 2002 ahead of the 2001 numbers. City Finance Director Don Taylor said sales tax payments for December are due this week and a year-to-date total is pending.

Including November, the year-to-date total is $12,139,369, 1.32 percent less than 2001.

Evans-Hall is not sure if the December numbers will be enough to finish 2002 ahead of 2001.

"If people paid full prices or discounted prices, that is going to determine where sales tax comes in," she said.

December will get a boost from part of the Thanksgiving weekend, which ended in that month. And Taylor said a few merchants would make lump-sum payments in December.

As for upcoming months, Evans-Hall said the holiday weekends look strong, but between times could be soft until March.

"This Martin Luther King weekend was really strong, certainly number-wise, over last year," she said. "It will slow down until President's Day weekend and until the first week of March it looks a little soft. But from there on it is pretty good."

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