Steamboat Springs sales tax revenues down in January

Missing tax filers responsible for decline

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— Steamboat Springs sales tax collections declined year over year for the first time in nine months, according to a report released Thursday by the city.

The city collected $1,699,677 in January 2012, down from $1,761,334 in January 2011. That’s a 3.5 percent decline.

Steamboat separates sales tax collections by category (miscellaneous retail, lodging and amenities, sporting goods, utilities, restaurants and liquor stores) and location (downtown, base area, U.S. Highway 40 corridor, regional and west Steamboat).

Although they are two of the three smallest categories, sporting goods (-12.4 percent) and utilities (-18 percent) had the largest declines in January 2012 from January 2011.

“I wasn’t surprised to see sporting goods and utilities down due to lack of snow and milder temperatures,” city Finance Director Kim Weber said. “I was surprised to see it that much down.”

Weber said her staff investigated the declines and found that some of the utilities hadn’t filed their tax revenues. She said it’s not uncommon to have missing filers, but the utilities were larger than normal.

After the city gets that tax revenue, Weber said, she’s confident the overall decline will be reduced.

“It may be a small percent decrease, still, but we feel that number will look better by the time the final report comes out,” she said. The final January report should be available by March 15.

The preliminary report also includes building use taxes, which declined more than 150 percent from $11,701 collected in January 2011 to $5,927 refunded in January.

Weber said there were several small refunds, which isn’t uncommon. Contractors pay the 4.5 percent tax based on an estimated cost of materials for their projects. If the estimate is too high, the city issues a refund.

Included for the first time in January’s report was revenue from the city’s new air service tax. Voters approved the 0.25 percent sales tax to supplement the program that provides revenue guarantees to airlines that fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The tax generated $83,095 in January.

Weber said the airline tax revenue doesn’t include taxes from new car sales or building use collections. Supporters of the tax said it would generate $1.3 million annually.

Sales tax collections declined in January for the first time since April 2011. Sales taxes in 2011 were 4.4 percent higher than in 2010. The city budgeted a 10 percent decline last year. The city budgeted for a 5 percent decline in 2012.

Preliminary January 2012 sales tax revenue

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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