Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Year-end and December city sales tax revenue figures were like the light at the end of a three-year-long, dark tunnel.
In December 2004, city sales tax was up 12 percent from the prior December. It marked the end of a very strong year in which every month's sales tax revenue was higher than its corresponding month in 2003. The year-end sales tax tally was 7.42 percent higher in 2004 than in 2003.
"Just the fact that every month was up over the prior year, that was the first time we've seen that, at least in the last couple years," said Sandy Evans Hall, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's executive vice president. "We're coming out of the recession and starting to feel good about the economy again."
The 12 percent increase in December sales tax meant the city brought in $2.05 million, compared with $1.8 million in December 2003
City Finance Director Don Taylor said part of the 12 percent increase was attributed to a large corporate company making two payments in the same month. The company has a 13-period pay cycle and every year makes two payments in one month.
The extra payment accounted for 5 percent of the increase in December.
Even with the accounting glitch factored into the equation, Taylor said, December saw a 7 percent increase in sales tax overall.
The 7 percent increase in December still was remarkable, Taylor said, when considering December 2003 saw a 6 percent increase from the previous December.
"We still had two really strong Decembers in a row, showing that particular month is doing well," Taylor said.
Evans Hall said she was expecting a 1 percent to 5 percent increase in December, because the previous one had been so strong.
For December 2004, miscellaneous retail, sporting goods, utilities and restaurants saw a 13 percent or higher gain in sales tax revenue. The accommodation tax saw a 7.11 percent gain.
The numbers show that the people who are coming to Steamboat are willing to spend more, Evans Hall said, which also was confirmed by what she heard in the restaurant and retail industry.
"They have been holding back with spending in the last three years, and they finally just let go," Evans Hall said. "That is what we are seeing: consumer confidence."
The year-to-date numbers also are encouraging. The city had budgeted for a 3 percent increase in 2004. City Manager Paul Hughes said part of the 4 percent surplus has been put in the general fund. The council also has used some of the more than expected funding for supplemental items that they approved throughout the year.
In 2003, the city's year-end total was $13.9 million. In 2004, the final tally was $15 million.