Steamboat Springs City sales tax collections dropped nearly 2 percent in January compared with January 2010, but a one-time payment of about $90,000 a year ago skews that comparison and could hide an actual uptick in January business, a city official said Wednesday.
Steamboat Springs employee Kim Weber, the former revenue supervisor who now is budget and tax manager, noted that without that $90,000 — an overdue tax payment from a commercial vendor — the January 2010 sales tax total would be nearly $60,000 less than revenue shown in this year’s first sales tax report.
“It’s a little bit misleading, from an economic standpoint,” Weber said about the year-to-year comparison for January.
Steamboat Springs collected $1,736,808 in sales tax in January, compared with $1,770,224 — including the $90,000 payment — in January 2010.
An adjusted comparison, though, would show continued positive trends in city sales tax revenues seen in recent months. In December, for example, the city saw a 2.7 percent increase in sales tax collections compared with December 2009. The city finished 2010 with about 1 percent less total sales tax revenue than 2009, a figure well within Steamboat’s budgeted 10 percent decrease for 2010.
As in December 2010, sporting goods sales showed a solid increase in January 2011. Revenue in that sales tax category increased from $147,700 in January 2010 to $165,332 in January 2011, a nearly 12 percent boost. Sales tax revenues from restaurants slowed in the first month of 2011, though, showing a 1 percent year-to-year increase compared with the category’s nearly 7 percent increase in December 2010.
Weber said she couldn’t disclose the nature of the vendor who made the $90,000 payment in January 2010.
“It was a type of audit assessment,” Weber said. “It was more an educational thing. They weren’t aware that they needed to be charging tax. It was completely voluntary once they were made aware (they were conducting) taxable transactions.”
That payment last year also roughly accounts for the more than 28 percent decrease in regional sales tax collections in January 2011. Weber said the “regional” sales tax category is a catch-all that includes “any out-of-town vendors that don’t have a physical location,” plus utilities.
“It’s anything that brings a delivery truck into Steamboat that doesn’t have a physical location here,” she said.
Lodging numbers sunny
Steamboat Springs’ lodging industry saw a modest boost in January, when sales tax revenues in the lodging and amenities category increased by more than 3 percent from January 2010, from $386,408 in that month to $399,680 in January this year.
The city’s accommodations tax revenues, also tied to the lodging industry, also increased. Those revenues were up from $92,233 in January 2010 to $95,475 this year, an increase of about 3.5 percent.
The lodging forecast is strong in the immediate future, as well. The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s weekly lodging barometer is projecting 10,700 visitors this weekend, a 77 percent capacity that shows significant improvement from the 9,500 visitors and 69 percent capacity on the corresponding weekend in 2010.
Lodging forecasts through March 12 also show strong increases from 2010 visitor numbers.
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com