Steamboat lodging spurs a sales tax increase

Ski base leads way to citywide March revenues 8.6 percent greater than March 2010

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March sales tax revenue for Steamboat Springs, 2009 to 2011

— Local talk about a March that appeared strong for local businesses and the lodging industry played out on paper Monday, as the city announced sales tax revenues that show the biggest financial boost Steamboat Springs has seen in months.

The city collected a total of $2,108,380 in March sales tax, a nearly 8.6 percent increase from the $1,942,308 collected in March 2010. March collections also exceeded the $2,022,205 generated in March 2009.

City budget and tax manager Kim Weber said she had to triple-check the numbers after a first look spurred some disbelief.

She said the revenues are comparable to March figures from about six years ago.

“We’re still in between 2005 and 2006 numbers, but at least we’re on the positive side,” she said. “The majority of the increase for March is due to lodging and amenities collection of sales tax.”

Sales tax revenues from the lodging industry increased more than 22 percent in March compared to March 2010, accommodations tax revenues increased more than 21 percent, and tax revenues from businesses at the base of Steamboat Ski Area increased more than 21 percent in March, painting a picture of a strong spring ski season that brought significant visitor traffic to the mountain area.

Seventy-nine inches of snow fell in March, part of a 2010-11 season that saw 433 inches fall at Steamboat Ski Area.

Tax revenues from sporting goods increased nearly 14 percent in March compared to a year ago, indicating improved sales for ski and snowboard gear.

The March revenues put the city in the black year-to-date, at 2.4 percent above total collections for the first three months of 2010.

The city has budgeted for a 10 percent decrease in sales tax revenues this year, compared to 2010, copying the conservative strategy also used a year ago.

The city finished 2010 with about 1 percent less total sales tax revenue than 2009, a figure well within the budgeted 10 percent decrease last year.

City Finance Director Deb Hinsvark said the positive trend could continue.

“We feel really confident that we’re going to be at least flat (compared to 2010),” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to see a drop this year.”

The city is facing increased fuel prices and a heavily burdened capital improvement budget. Hinsvark said excess revenues, potentially, also could help fund economic development strategies and some community support requests that the city could not place in this year’s budget last fall.

Hinsvark said she plans to present a first-quarter analysis to Steamboat Springs City Council on May 17.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

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