Sales tax at a glance
May sales tax collections and change from May 2007
Source: City of Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs' total sales tax collections for May were up nearly 4 percent over May 2007, but retail collections were down for the second consecutive month.
Retail sales tax collections dipped 1.35 percent compared with May 2007. In April, they were down 1.69 percent over April 2007.
"I think a lot of what we're seeing in the decreases still has to do with Ski Time Square," Sales Tax Auditor Lisa Erbes said. Most of the businesses in Ski Time Square have closed for demolition ahead of redevelopment, though businesses across the street at Torian Plum Plaza are and will remain open.
Sales tax collections for the mountain area were down 10.63 percent from May 2007, at $47,385 compared with $53,019. Collections in western Steamboat were 11.34 percent lower than they were in May 2007, at $212,805 to $240,027. Erbes couldn't explain that drop.
As a category, utilities saw the largest increase over last May: 25.73 percent.
"We still have the rest of the year to go through," Finance Director Lisa Rolan said. "The only thing that is really saving us right now are our utilities."
The increase in sales tax collections probably results from an increase in residents' utility bills, she said. The utility category includes services from agencies such as Yampa Valley Electric Association, Atmos Energy and Comcast, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said. Energy prices have gone up in the past months amid increases in the price of oil.
For 2008, the city had budgeted for a 4 percent increase in sales tax collections over 2007, Rolan said. The year-to-date increase stands at 4.66 percent after May, and she said the city could face budget issues if its total collections fall short.
"If we don't keep up and hit our 4 percent increase, we're going to have to dip into our already low reserves," Rolan said.
The climate is dramatically different from last year's, she said. In 2007, Steamboat saw an annual sales tax collection increase of 8 percent over 2006. The city had budgeted for a 3 percent increase.
Rolan said next year's budget would include a 4 percent revenue decrease.
"We're going to have to make some tough decisions this year," she said. "I think in 2010 we're going to have to make even tougher decisions."
But Steamboat is far from alone, Rolan said, adding that other communities are facing the same or worse conditions.
Erbes was optimistic that sales tax collections would look better for June.
"Hopefully, when we get June, we'll see it going up because of things opening up and tourism picking up," Erbes said. "We'll probably still be down a bit because of construction."
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