Photo by John F. Russell
Beth Johnson sorts through the bins at the Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory on Tuesday in downtown Steamboat Springs. Steamboat’s year-to-date taxable sales are in the middle of the pack compared with other resort communities.
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs’ taxable sales are keeping pace with those of other resort communities, according to the Mountain Communities Report the city released Monday.
Steamboat saw a nearly 2 percent increase in taxable sales for May from the previous year. It’s almost as much as the city’s 2.24 percent year-to-date increase in taxable sales, which the city didn’t expect. Steamboat projected a 10 percent decline in sales tax revenues this year from 2010.
“We’re moving in the right direction, but we’re still not where we’d like to be,” said Kim Weber, the city’s budget and tax manager.
The mountain communities’ May and year-to-date taxable sales, which are based on sales and use taxes collected, ranged from positive to negative. Aspen saw a May increase of 5.25 percent from last year, and Breckenridge’s taxable sales decreased by 29.6 percent for the month.
Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen attributed the drop to a strong May last year, the result of projects that provided additional sales tax revenue. He said May 2011 is more in line with May 2009.
The town’s taxable sales are down 3.11 percent year to date. Gagen said Breckenridge’s sales tax category for supplies, construction materials, was down 20 to 30 percent almost every month this year.
“It really drug us down and continues to,” he said about Breckenridge’s construction industry.
However, Gagen said the tourist sales tax revenue category was up an average of 2 percent all winter, better than the 1 percent growth the town projected. He attributed that to a strong snow year.
Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler said Vail’s strong year-to-date taxable sales, up 9.84 percent, partly resulted from the strong snow year. May was down 0.87 percent from the previous year.
Zemler said Vail’s proximity to the Interstate 70 corridor, the ski area’s continued marketing efforts and the ability to attract destination visitors also contributed to the town’s strong sales this year.
He also said Vail’s completion of major redevelopment projects before the recession, including new hotels and 60,000 to 70,000 square feet of retail space, have paid dividends for the town. Zemler said hotel average daily rates and occupancy isn’t what it was three or four years ago, but retail and restaurant sales have been the strength of the local economy.
“I think all those things combined have helped,” he said. “I think it’s also important to keep perspective of where we’re all coming from. We had 15 months of negative sales tax growth.”
The change in Steamboat’s monthly taxable sales from the previous year has been up and down this year. Weber said the year-to-date figure was important because the city projected such a large decline in sales tax revenues.
Because sales tax revenues have exceeded projections, she said the Steamboat Springs City Council would consider a second reading of a motion to appropriate the excess revenue to cover unexpected expenses. She said they included overtime for the city’s Public Works Department, increased fuel costs and high-water equipment for Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.
Weber said Steamboat was doing well.
“We’re usually right behind where the other communities are, meaning we didn’t get the downturn as quickly as they did,” she said. “But we won’t see the upturn as quickly. We’re still in the middle of the pack, so we’re in line with the other communities.”
Mountain communities taxable sales for May
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com