Officials hope sales tax drop is over

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— City sales tax revenue continues to decline, but city officials are hoping the worst is over.

April numbers show sales tax revenue dropped by 6.58 percent from the previous April. The month brought in $723,211.

The year-to-date collections for 2003 are down 3.88 percent from the first four months of 2002. The city has collected $5,454,422 so far this year.

City Finance Director Don Taylor said he hopes to see a recovery in the coming months.

Last year at this time, city sales tax numbers were down 1.5 percent, but the numbers evened out by the end of the year. The city ended 2002 down 0.83 percent from 2001.

"Last year started out similarly, but by the end of the year sales tax had worked its way back to even," Taylor said. "I expect something similar (to happen). To have better (numbers) the rest of the year.

"I don't know if we will get back to even, but I don't expect it to get any worse."

The end of April marks the city's total collection in sales tax over the ski season, which generates the largest amount of revenue. In the last two years, the first four months accounted for more than 40 percent of the city's sales tax revenue for the year.

The accommodation tax also was down in April with a 25-percent decrease from the year before.

The city collected $15,361 from the accommodation tax in April.

For the year, the accommodation tax is down by 5.42 percent.

City Council President Kathy Connell, who co-owns a property management company, said her sense is lodging was down this year despite an increase in available inventory and better snow than last year.

"I see it as an indicator of what is happening in the tourism industry in Steamboat," Connell said. "It is a hurting puppy. It is a serious situation that does not look to be getting better."

As the city sees its sales tax numbers drop, the building use tax continues to rebound.

In 2002, the building use tax dropped by more than 50 percent.

That number is bouncing back. April had a 207-percent increase. The city collected $92,039 this April compared to $29,913 the previous April.

For the year, the building use tax has increased by 58.4 percent and Routt County Chief Building Officer Mark Marchus said building permits continued to pick up throughout the spring.

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