Steamboat Springs sales tax down in August

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For the first time in more than a year, city sales tax revenue took a dip, as August was 2.4 percent lower than the same month in 2003.

Children going back to school earlier, which caused families to stop vacationing earlier, could have contributed to the decline, said Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

"I think really what we are seeing in August, more than anything else, is the going back to school earlier," Evans Hall said.

About midway through August, Evans Hall said, there was a dramatic drop in the number of visitors to Steamboat Springs. The chamber tried to counteract that trend by trying to move back a Triple Crown adult softball tournament by a week. But the city did not have any special events for the weekend preceding the Labor Day weekend.

"The last weekend before Labor Day was fairly flat and fairly low in terms of lodging," Evans Hall said.

The city brought in $1.18 million in sales tax revenue for August, down from $1.2 million from August of 2003. While sales tax decreases were seen in miscellaneous retail, sporting goods and restaurants, it went up for lodging and liquor stores. The accommodations tax brought in $39,000, a 4.4 percent increase from August of 2003.

City sales tax revenue collected for each of the past 12 months had been higher than the revenue collected the same month the year before. This August was the first time that sales tax number dropped.

The low numbers in August did not do much to dampen the city's year-to-date sales tax revenue, which is 5.35 percent higher than in 2003. The city has collected $10.1 million for 2004.

City Finance Director Don Taylor said the August numbers could be a sign that the upswing in sales tax is starting to level out and noted that last August is when the increases started.

"We're not going to see the bigger increases like we did earlier in the year," Taylor said.

Taylor also noted that collections lagged in August and since the report was published more money has come into the city. But even with the all the money collected, sales tax revenue remained slightly lower than last year.

Evans Hall said that she heard September had been a fairly strong month and October also is looking promising, as long as the weather remains good and attracts visitors from the Front Range.

Construction remained strong with a 32 percent increase in the building-use tax and $204,577 in revenue in August. Year to date, the city has collected $1.05 million in its building-use tax, which is 63 percent more than the year before.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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