Sales tax receipts slide again

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— City sales tax revenue dropped in January for the second consecutive year.

The city collected $1.5 million in sales tax in January 2003, a 1 percent decrease from January 2002. Last January sales tax revenue dropped by more than 3 percent from January 2001.

Overall sales for Steamboat totaled more than $36 million.

"It is a little worrisome that it was down from last January, which was down from the year before," said City Finance Director Don Taylor. "We were somewhat hopeful that it would be up from last year."

January is historically the fourth highest month in sales tax revenue, behind February, March and December.

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Vice President Sandy Evans-Hall said in January the chamber worked on bringing in college groups and Ski Corp. held activities for its 40th Anniversary Celebration, which occurred on the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

"We had some activities and festivities planned," Evans-Hall said. "We did as much as we could to get them here."

Despite the decrease in sales tax revenue, money from the accommodation tax increased by 1.17 percent. January 2003 brought in $98,900, which exceed last year's total by $1,200.

Evans-Hall said those numbers indicate that while more people were in town, they spent less money.

She pointed to the increase in sales tax along U.S. Highway 40 to show that visitors were spending less money.

Instead of going out to restaurants, more people are buying groceries and cooking or shopping at stores like Wal-Mart instead of the downtown area.

Sales tax revenue along the U.S. 40 corridor increased by 2.35 percent, while the mountain, downtown and west of Steamboat areas saw decreases of 1.7 percent or more. Regionally, sales tax increased .35 percent.

Evans-Hall said vacationers are downsizing their accommodations, staying in two-bedroom units instead of three-bedroom units.

City Council President Kathy Connell was not impressed with the 1 percent increase in the accommodation tax. She said that January 2002 saw the worst lodging numbers in 12 years.

Steamboat fared better than Vail, which showed a 5.8 percent decrease for the month of January. Winter Park had a 6 percent increase from the year before and Glenwood Springs sales tax increased by 4 percent.

The revenue from the building use tax continues to decline. January saw a 50 percent decrease from $13,899 to $6,979.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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