Hayden gets fuel sales tax check

$25,000 from YVRA fuel sales was less than expected

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— Hayden has received a check for sales tax revenue from airport fuel sales, but the amount is less than half what town officials expected.

The town estimated that it was owed $60,000 to $70,000 for commercial fuel sales at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during the last three months of 2008, Town Manager Russ Martin said last month. The town received about $25,000 in sales taxes and penalties, Finance Director Lisa Dowling said Wednesday.

"We got a check for $12,680 and then we get an automatic distribution, and I get the reports monthly, and we saw there was a lot of penalties for the back months, which make up the difference," Dowling said.

The smaller check contributes to already low sales tax revenues.

The town expects to receive 30 percent less sales tax revenue than it did in 2008, Dowling said. Officials already made cuts aligning with an expected 15 percent decrease in sales tax income, Dowling said, adding that town staff members have been asked to find more cuts.

"We should get most of our sales tax revenues in the big months of December, January, February, March and then our revenues go down from the airport, so our percentage is less," Dowling said.

The town had hoped for more revenue from those fuel sales.

ConocoPhillips took over commercial fuel sales at YVRA last fall. It paid sales tax to the Colorado Department of Revenue, which held the money because of confusion about where it was supposed to go.

ConocoPhillips paid its taxes in full, spokesman Bill Stephens said. For its first three months, the company had kinks in its reporting system that resulted in those payments not getting disbursed, he said. ConocoPhillips has changed systems and resolved the problems, he said.

"We did all along make the payments," Stephens said. "It's just that it was not properly credited to Hayden."

Hayden officials have confirmed that everything's run smoothly since Jan. 1.

The town has requested an audit of ConocoPhillips to make sure the amount remitted is correct, Dowling said.

The town expected $60,000 to $70,000 based on fuel sales in previous years, Dowling said. Officials also noted reports that Galaxy Aviation, the fixed-base operator that sells fuel to private aircraft, sold more fuel Dec. 27 than had ever been sold in a day for private aviation at YVRA.

"We would just feel more comfortable knowing that those numbers are correct based on the number of gallons of jet fuel sold," Dowling said. "We know the amount of flights increased. : Jet fuel is sold for a lower amount per gallon, but we're still not convinced it's that much lower per gallon to make up the difference."

State revenue officials told the town they planned to audit ConocoPhillips, which could take 36 months, she said.

"The audit will tell all, and we can't make assumptions until that's done," Dowling said.

Stephens said he couldn't reach anyone to confirm whether an audit was happening.

"If an audit is called for, certainly we'll cooperate," Stephens said. "No question about it; our policy is to comply."

Revenue Department spokesman Mark Couch said state law prohibited him from confirming or commenting on audits of specific taxpayers. He would not comment on the ConocoPhillips situation.

"Paying taxes is not always as easy as people might think," Couch said. "A lot of people think it's as simple as writing a check and paying it in, and especially when it gets to large sums and large corporate types of taxes with multiple jurisdictions involved, it gets particularly complicated."

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