News on sales tax tops expectations

Projected drop higher than actual number

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By the numbers

October 2008 sales tax collections compared with October 2007.

Miscellaneous retail: -9.68 percent; $772,239 to $855,035

Lodging: +5.26 percent;

$72,155 to $68,551

Sporting goods: -12.99 percent; $43,689 to $50,214

Utilities: +17.12 percent;

$131,869 to $112,594

Restaurants: +6.78 percent;

$162,809 to $152,473

Liquor stores: +1.34 percent;

$43,330 to $42,756

Total sales tax revenue for October is down 4.33 percent compared with October 2007: $1,226,091 to $1,281,623

Source: City of Steamboat Springs

— October sales tax collections dipped compared with the same month last year, but numbers came out higher than preliminary figures showed.

The city of Steamboat Springs released figures last week revealing a 4.3 percent decrease in total collections compared with October 2007. The city still was up nearly 2.6 percent year-to-date. Some retail areas were down, and utilities again were up. Western Steamboat saw the largest drop of any region: 13.4 percent. Steamboat fared better than some other mountain towns, a couple of which saw double-digit dips for October.

The month's decrease was smaller than city officials originally thought. On Dec. 3, City Finance Director Lisa Rolan confirmed that preliminary sales tax receipts showed a 6.2 percent decline for the month.

The final figure included more returns, Revenue Supervisor Kim Weber said.

The 6.2 percent represented "the collections that we had for October as of the date that we released that number," Weber said. "However, we received a bunch of returns in that first couple weeks of December for that October period."

Those late returns boosted the total, she said.

Miscellaneous retail and sporting goods were down, which Assistant Finance Director Bob Litzau said was expected.

"The town really isn't all that busy for the month of October, so I wouldn't really expect that stuff to be going gangbusters anyway," Litzau said, adding that the loss of Ski Time Square shops probably contributed to the decrease.

Utilities sales tax collections increased 17.1 percent, which Weber attributed to higher utility prices. New buildings starting to come on line also could have contributed to that increase, Litzau said.

Collections in the town, mountain, U.S. Highway 40 corridor and western Steamboat regions decreased, and regional collections increased. Weber said no particular western Steamboat business contributed more than another to its 13.4 percent drop.

"I looked through the numbers, and it looked like it was pretty evenly distributed among west Steamboat," she said.

Steamboat Springs saw a smaller October sales tax collection decrease than Winter Park, Aspen and Vail. Glenwood Springs saw a smaller decrease than Steamboat: about 1 percent.

Winter Park was off 23.5 percent for the month and is off 4.2 percent for the year. Winter Park Finance Director Shawn Cordsen said the numbers were skewed by the great year the town had in 2007.

"One of the reasons was the expansion and redevelopment of the base village by Intrawest," Cordsen said. "So, what it really came down to is that we saw massive increases (in 2007). : A lot of it was growth and development, so the reduction of that is where we're seeing some of the slowdown."

The city expected the decrease, however, he said.

"The growth markets really slowed down, not only nationally, but in the Front Range well ahead of the slowdown we saw," Cordsen said. "And so we were really forward thinking in that we knew sooner or later it was going to be up here."

Weber said Steamboat's location and community might have helped it compared with other mountain towns.

"I think that we rely heavily on tourism, but we still have a solid local economy," she said, "and I think that helps steady our numbers."

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