Photo by Matt Stensland
Steamboat Springs officials say construction and redevelopment at the base ski area are contributing to lower sales tax revenues.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Steamboat Springs Sales tax collections were down for June, compared with those of last year, though revenues still topped 2006 figures.
Steamboat Springs' total sales tax collections for the month were about 1.2 percent below June 2007 levels - 'about $1.49 million compared with $1.51 million. Collections in June 2006 hit about $1.38 million.
Lodging, sporting goods, restaurants and liquor stores saw a decrease in sales tax collection since the previous June. Sales tax collections increased about 1 percent for miscellaneous retail and utilities.
However, collections are up about 4.7 percent for the year.
For the third consecutive month, mountain sales tax revenue collections fell. They were down about 15.5 percent compared with June 2007. Cafe Diva co-owner Paul Underwood at-tributed the drop to an overall dip in tourism. That slip could be the result of a slower economy and chilly, snowy June weather, he said.
"I've seen similar trends in the past," Underwood said. "Last year, we had gorgeous weather in May and June, and the numbers were up. In 2006, the weather was more like this year, and the numbers were soft."
It also could be related to the closure of Ski Time Square shops, city Revenue Supervisor Kim Weber said. The strip is being redeveloped, and most of the businesses shut down in spring. Those across the street at Torian Plum Plaza, including Cafe Diva, are eager to remind customers that they are open.
"There's a general misconception with the community with the base area that there's no parking and it's all torn up," Underwood said.
Parking is available, and the construction has not blocked off Ski Time Square Drive nor created dust, he said.
Along west U.S. Highway 40, the downtown area saw a 4.3 percent increase in June sales tax collections. The downtown area typically brings in more money than the mountain area in summer, Weber said. Its numbers represented an increase from about $277,000 to $289,000. The mountain sales decreased from about $182,000 to $154,000.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said the uptick in downtown collections surprised her.
"That's not what I expected, from what I was hearing from the merchants," Barnett said. "I was hearing business was down in June, but then when the numbers came down, that's not what it showed. Maybe some were down and others weren't."
Weber said several mountain towns reported a drop in June sales tax revenues. Aspen and Vail saw decreases of about 3 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. They still were ahead of 2007 in the year-to-date sales tax figures.
Weber said she expected sales tax collections to decline further.
Barnett said decreases in revenue had been expected.
"Pretty much what I've been hearing from people is that last year was such a good summer, with the economy turning down, they didn't expect to hit those numbers," Barnett said.