A large crowd gathers at the base of Steamboat Ski Area in early January to listen to the Dirty River Boys play as part of MusicFest. Sales tax collections in the mountain district were up 20 percent in January 2014 over January 2013.

Photo by John F. Russell

A large crowd gathers at the base of Steamboat Ski Area in early January to listen to the Dirty River Boys play as part of MusicFest. Sales tax collections in the mountain district were up 20 percent in January 2014 over January 2013.

Steamboat Springs' mountain area saw largest sales tax gains in January

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— Anyone who had to navigate the massive crowds of skiers at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area in early January probably wouldn't be surprised by the latest sales tax report from the city of Steamboat Springs.

Collections in the mountain district were up 20 percent, or $132,000, in January 2014 compared to January 2013.

Overall, tax collections in the city were up 7.21 percent, or $138,396 over last year.

“It's a good turnaround,” Budget and Tax Supervisor Sue Davies said.

The first sales tax report of 2014 continues what has been more than a yearlong trend of gains.

The city's finance staff couldn't point to one specific driver of the significant January gain on the mountain, but they indicated the strength of lodging appears to be behind much of the mountain area gains.

David Baldinger Jr., the co-chair of the volunteer committee that continues to oversee the funding of the base area projects, said the steady gains in sales tax revenue are a direct correlation to the dramatically improved infrastructure there.

“Imagine had we not done these improvements how negative that number would be,” Baldinger Jr. said Monday. “That's where we were trending. I don't think it's any accident that the nice sales tax numbers we've seen on the mountain over the last few months are exactly what was contemplated when we formed the urban renewal authority.”

Baldinger Jr. said he expects the numbers to continue to stay strong as the new infrastructure ranging from the promenade to better signage and lighting allows the base area to host more people and new summer events.

Citywide, the lodging industry saw the biggest gain with a 22 percent sales tax increase over last year.

It was followed by gains from liquor stores (13 percent) and restaurants (11 percent).

The final January sales tax report expected to come out later this month also will mark the first one that includes revenue totals from the new retail marijuana industry.

But unlike larger cities and counties that host pot shops, Steamboat Springs will not be able to break out the sales tax revenue for the new industry like it does for liquor stores, restaurants and sporting good stores.

Finance Director Kim Weber said that with only three retail marijuana stores expected to open here, the release of the sales tax figures for the new industry would result in the release of proprietary information, which is against the city's code.

Read the full sales tax report here.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Preliminary January 2014 sales tax revenue

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