Steamboat sales tax revenue decline in January improves

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— The decline in Steamboat Springs sales tax figures for January shrank by nearly half, according to a final report the city released Thursday evening.

According to the report, the city collected $1,729,804 in January, down from $1,761,334 in January 2011 — a 1.79 percent decline. That’s an improvement from the 3.5 percent decline indicated in the preliminary report released earlier this month.

At the time, city of Steamboat Springs Finance Director Kim Weber said some of the city’s utilities hadn’t filed their taxes, which isn’t uncommon. She said Friday that all the utilities’ tax filings were current.

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).

The decline in utilities changed from 18 percent in the preliminary report to about 3.5 percent in the final report. It was a difference of nearly $30,000 in sales taxes.

Weber said she wasn’t surprised to see sporting goods down 12.41 percent in January compared with January 2011 because of the lack of snow translating into fewer ski sales and rentals.

But Weber noted that lodging and amenities remained near flat. All other categories except for miscellaneous retail and liquor stores declined slightly.

In location, only regional and west Steamboat didn’t see declines.

Based on February’s snowfall and a busy March, Weber expressed optimism for the rest of the year.

“I’m not concerned about our projections for 2012,” Weber said. “Things will come back in February, hopefully. I think we’ll definitely stay within our 5 percent down (projection) from last year.”

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.

The 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. They were unchanged from the preliminary report.

Weber said earlier this month that 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 $84,180 in January.

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.

January 2012 sales tax revenue

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

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