March sales best in 3 years

City sales tax revenues up 2.71 percent from 2003

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— March was the highest sales-tax generating month the city has seen in three years, despite unseasonably warm weather.

City sales tax numbers increased by 2.71 percent in March, compared with the same month in 2003. A total of $1.836 million was generated during March, which is the most sales tax revenue the city has generated in a single month since March 2001 when $1.844 million was collected.

March and December traditionally are the two strongest months for sales tax revenue.

In April, Executive Vice President of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Sandy Evans-Hall predicted March could be a strong month.

Across the country, more school spring breaks were held in March, which drew larger crowds to the ski area, Evans-Hall said and noted that one week in March could have sold out a "couple of times over."

But she did worry about the end of March, when unseasonably warm weather took people's minds off of snow and skiing.

Compared with March 2003, restaurants saw an 8.69-percent increase in sales, liquor stores saw a 7.38-percent increase and miscellaneous retail sales saw a 6.83-percent increase.

Although those numbers increased, the accommodation tax dropped by almost 5 percent, collecting $132,313 for the month.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Councilwoman Kathy Connell noted the discrepancy between a 6-percent increase in airplane seats coming into the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and a decrease in lodging numbers. Since January, the accommodation tax has seen a 1.22-percent decrease.

Regionally, the mountain area took a hit compared with March 2003 with a 3.57-percent drop in sales tax revenue collected. Other areas, such as west of Steamboat and the U.S. Highway 40 corridor faired much better.

City Finance Director Don Taylor noted some of the increase could be contributed to the rise in utility prices, which increased by 9.96 percent, more than any other sector.

Since September, the city's sales tax revenue has been increasing steadily from the previous year. Year-to-date totals show the city's revenue up by 4.23 percent from the previous year with a total of $4.9 million colleted.

Revenue from the building-use tax also have been consistently stronger than 2003. Year-to-date, $126,000 has been generated, a 266 percent increase.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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