Final May sales tax figures show 7.4% drop

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— The city of Steamboat Springs released final May sales tax collection figures today. Collections were down 7.4 percent for the month from May 2009, $909,925 to $842,645. Preliminary reports two weeks ago had shown a 7.6 percent decrease for the month.

Sales tax collections decreased 6.4 percent in retail; 19.4 percent in lodging and amenities; 9 percent in sporting goods; 1.6 percent in utilities; 12.5 percent in restaurants; and 9.1 percent in liquor stores.

The city’s collections were down about 4.9 percent year to date, from nearly $7.6 million in 2009 to nearly $7.2 million in 2010. The city budgeted for a 10 percent decrease in collections this year compared with 2009.

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

But it's alright now because Scott Ford of the EDC found national statistics on spending so says that July 2010 will be 3% better than July 2009.

Wanna bet that July will be an up or down month? No change (-2 to +2) is a push and I'll take down more than 2%?

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Scott Ford 4 years, 2 months ago

Hi Scott W - I am not exactly sure my perspective is don't worry be happy - however, we will have to wait until the Colorado Department of Revenue releases their figures for Gross Retail Sales in Routt County for July and that likely will not happen until November. Without question activity in Steamboat Springs is the largest portion of this number so we will get a pretty good hint.

My question is who buys if whose right? I just know it needs to happen in South Routt. Have you been to the reopened Antlers?

BTW - The Pilot has hired a guy with the first name of Scott. This will only add to the confusion between all the Scotts in this area.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

Scott F. So how does Hayden now know May's sales tax revenue is down a bunch if the State does not release numbers for 6 months? (and if Hayden can learn May's numbers then wouldn't the County and OC also know May's numbers?)

Anyway, in terms of the bet I see no reason to wait for the State's final numbers. Maybe the article didn't put your comments in the fully nuanced context that you intended. I don't care. This is the era of Limbaugh, Beck and Colbert where anyone is allowed to take any snippet of information, strip it of context and make it into a new fact. Therefore, your promise of good times returning applies to SB which means we only have to wait for SB's sales tax numbers to be reported in August to know whether or not you were right about July. If the State's final numbers are different then it doesn't matter because the earliest facts take precedence regardless of their accuracy because by then sales tax revenues for July is old news and irrelevant regardless of their accuracy.

Since you say you don't know who buys if who is right (how long have you been in isolation?), let me explain it how bets and buying drinks works. If I am right then you buy because I was right and you were wrong. If you are right then like the golfer that shoots a hole in one and buys drinks for everyone, you buy me a celebratory drink. Makes sense, no?

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Bergie13 4 years, 2 months ago

CONGRATS Wedel, your arrogant and condescending posts are the reason I now skip the comments section in the Pilot. We can always count on you and your negative, chicken-little analysis to shed a depressing light on a story. I'm just glad I don't live in your sad/angry world. The rest of us out here are making the best of a really tough situation and try to see the good times that surely lie ahead (however far off that might be). Go ahead and write one of your vitriolic responses, I'll be out enjoying life.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

Bergie, I do not want sales tax revenues to be down. I would greatly prefer that they were up. The issue I have with Scot Ford is the accuracy of predictions.

I do not think the economic data is there to suggest that an economic recovery has taken hold in the valley. I think the data suggests a continuing local recession The data I am looking at such as ongoing sales tax revenues, local employment numbers, projected lodging, construction activity and number of real estate transactions shows me continued weakness, not a recovery.

Thus, this dispute with Scott Ford is not over what we would to happen, but over what the data says we should expect to happen.

And most of my previous letter was sarcasm responding to Scott F saying the complete data for July won't be released (and technically known) until Nov when good enough data will be released by SB in August.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 2 months ago

Hi Bugie13 - I think you may mischaracterize Scott W. I enjoy the banter with Scott W. I hope he enjoys our exchanges as well. We do not always agree nor should we. I respect Scott W., because his arguments are thoughtful. He does not suffer fools lightly. Without question Scott W., has a sharp wit - but I have never seen him use it maliciously. So some of the exchange that takes place between Scott W. and myself is just blog banter in a friendly context.

I also approach the Pilot's blog with the same perspective I approach having coffee most mornings at the front table in the Steaming Bean. We call the table the Fact-Free Zone. Everyone there has an opinion - the topics vary and the exchanges are lively - in the end is anything solved? Not really - I however I know I become a wee-bit smarter and I think that is one of the benefits of a healthily debate. I wish more of it took place in "Pilot-Blog land." It too often degrades into rhetoric and dogmatism. Some education takes place in Pilot-Blog Land, but it is primarily entertainment. I think the folks that read this that are from out of town - and may do daily have to get a chuckle - and perhaps gain a wee-bit of insight to our community.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 2 months ago

Hi Scott - I totally agree we will know if my prediction was anywhere close to right based on July 2010 City of Steamboat Springs Sales Tax results which will be released in late August. This works for me. The vast majority of consumer retail activity in the county takes place in Steamboat Springs.

Thanks for the clarification on the drinking bets. In the fly-fishing world it is a wee-bit different. Typically with my fishing buddies the person that catches the biggest fish buys. But this could just be what takes place in my peer group.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

Scott F: I think I am actually pretty tolerant of those that I consider to be fools since foolishness from fools is to be expected and it is mean to be criticizing people that are doing their best. And so you won't see posting critical comments about someone like OCPD officer Eileen Rossi.

I can pretty much promise that my critical comments and periodic sarcasm are directed at comments from people that are not fools, but are making foolish statements or trying to fool the public. So when I make comments suggesting someone's comments are not that smart, it is only because I think they are smart.

BTW, I got an email from Mayor Nikki saying the State told OC that sales tax revenues were down 11.4% YTD. Which is pretty close to what they budgeted (10%).

And in case the joke was missed by anyone, that Eileen Rossi line was a joke. She is not a fool, just has to tolerate jokers like me.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 2 months ago

One of the challenges in our area is what I call the ternary of small numbers. Relative small changes in the actual number can result in what initially appears as significant percentage change. For example, a ballpark estimate of monthly sales tax collections for Oak Creek reported by the Colo Dept of Revenue would be in the $8,000 to $9,000 dollar range during 2009. In 2008, it was in the 9,000 to $9,500 range. In 2007, it was in the $11,000 range. In 2006, it was in the $8,000 to $9,000 range.

Not to minimize the budget challenges faced by the Oak Creek Town Board but the magnitude of the change in actual dollars should be viewed both as a percentage and as an actual amount.

In 2007 was a wee-bit of a crazy time everywhere and Routt County was no exception. In retrospect, there was a perspective that it would only get better and better. That that 2007 was going to be the new normal. Well the party did not last. If Oak Creek sales tax collections in the first quarter of 2010 are down 11.8% from the 1st quarter of 2009 how many actual dollars does that represent? It is a little less than $1,000 per month.

My point is a simple one. At some threshold point it is likely wiser to focus on the change in the magnitude of the dollar rather than the amount the percentage changed. What is that threshold point? It depends on the situation. Most likely it is wise to know both and always talk about it using both figures. This will hopefully achieve the proper perspective.

As always I welcome your insights and perspective.

PS - I hope I did my math right - please double check me. It always helps to have a second pair of eyes.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 2 months ago

Scott Ford, From a statistical point of view, it does not matter whether the numbers are small or large, but the size of the sample and to what extent an even smaller subset of the numbers affect the result. So locally, that would mean asking to what extent SB changes in SB sales tax numbers are affected by Walmart having a good or bad month. I think that SB is too big to be affected by any individual business. I think it is even likely that Hayden and OC have enough businesses that the sales tax numbers are reflective of the local economies and not the fortunes of a particular business.

I mentioned the OC sales tax simply as data that I think was not publicly released. I think the 11.4% decline is certainly within the expected range since, for whatever reason, it is just about exactly between the percentage decline seen by SB and Hayden, respectively. Mayor Nikki told me that the Town had budgeted for a 10% decline (a fact that is probably not commonly known because it wasn't mentioned in any article that I found and OC does not have their budgets on their website) which means the sales tax decline won't require a midyear budget correction.

The percentage amount directly correlates to the dollar amount so either one gives a reasonable idea of the budget impact. In the case of OC, since the actual decline is only 1.4% from budgeted, there is a minimal impact upon the budget. In the case of Hayden that saw a 14% decline and budgeted for 10%, that is a 4% difference that represents $18,000 which is enough to consider adjusting the current budget. If SB was off by $18,000 then that would not cause any thoughts of adjusting the city budget, but $18,000 would not represent a 4% difference between projected and actual, but something like .2%

Describing the importance and relevance of numbers is a challenge. There are psychological studies showing things like that most people do not think that a 1 out of 10 chance of something happening means that after 15 times that you think it probably happened, but instead think that the chance of it happening after 15 times is still 10% or maybe they recognize the multiple attempts increase it's chances to 25% or 50%. Just like the way we say tens, hundreds, thousands, millions, billions and so on causes many people when categorizing or estimating to give results suggesting they think that 10 million is the same as 1 billion. And it is not because these people are stupid, they find the same results in doctors and so on that can accurately make the calculations on paper.

I think the best that can be done is to try to put numbers in context from various perspectives. Such as percentage, dollars and how dollars compares to overall budget and showing how the calculations were made. I think the most important thing with numbers is to be honest with numbers and not try to play games with them to try to win an argument.

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