Hayden revenues increasing

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Hayden resident Kathy Kuegler writes in her checkbook while Hayden Mercantile owner Bill Hayden mans the checkout Friday. The Town of Hayden has seen significant increases in money generated by sales tax.

— At any given time, the Kum & Go gas station in Hayden is bustling with people fueling their cars and grabbing snacks from the convenience store.

Randy DeWall manages the small store, but don't be fooled by its size. It has the largest sales volume of any of the Colorado Kum & Go stations, DeWall said.

"It's only the calm before the storm," DeWall said. "When the hunters get here it will be wild again. This is a busy little store."

Key businesses along the town stretch of U.S. Highway 40, growth in Hayden and business at Yampa Valley Regional Airport are just some of the reasons Hayden is seeing significant increases in the amount of sales tax revenues collected this year, according to town officials.

"There is new money coming in with new stores," Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said. "We're hoping that a new restaurant adds to it."

Hayden Town Clerk Lisa Dowling said Friday that sales tax revenues are up 18.5 percent from last year through July.

Increases in sales tax revenues collected by the town this year means the town will not have to tap reserve funds - as it had planned to do to balance the budget.

"Because of this and some other adjustments we made in the budget - we had planned to spend over $200,000 out of reserves - but we're not going to because of the windfall of sales tax revenues," Dowling said.

Through September, $738,550 has been generated from sales tax revenues compared to $623,230 during the same period last year. By the end of the year, Dowling predicts the town will collect about $100,000 more than what was budgeted, or about $940,000.

Although Hayden officials are not allowed to disclose how much particular businesses collected in sales tax revenues, Dowling said about 43 percent of revenues can be attributed to the airport. Major sales tax generators at the airport were jet fuel sales and car rentals, but the town also benefits from the airport restaurant, bar and gift shop.

"It's not just the airport," Martin said. "It's the general growth in the valley."

Hayden Mercantile owner Bill Hayden said he has seen moderate and steady growth at his business, which is Hayden's source for groceries.

"You just have to drive through the community and see there are new houses," Hayden said. "There are more people in town."

He said the coming weeks should be especially busy as the hunting season begins.

Bill Hayden also is on a town committee that is examining tax revenue sources. The sales tax rate is just one of the taxes being studied in Hayden by the committee, which was formed earlier this year to see if tax burdens to local residents could be lessened. A tax on vehicles is another tax being looked at.

The town also recently received an unexpected windfall of mineral lease money. It's difficult to predict how much money the town will receive, so officials budgeted $10,000 for 2006. They received more than $63,000. The money is given to towns based on the number of mine employees who reside in the town. There were 30 coal and two oil and gas employees counted as living in Hayden.

Although the town expects to collect about 18.5 percent more sales tax revenue than last year, Dowling said drafts of the budget contain conservative estimates for the 2007 budget. The budget being worked on by staff calls for a 12 percent increase over the 2006 sales tax revenue projections, or a total of about $1,052,800.

Sales tax revenue accounts for about half of Hayden's annual budget, excluding grant money. Property owners in Hayden pay county and town property taxes.

- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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