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Mountain area in Steamboat sees sales tax rebound

June sales tax collections up more than 12 percent at ski base

— June sales tax figures described as promising by a city finance official were particularly encouraging for businesses at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Sales tax revenues across Steamboat Springs were down about 3.4 percent in June as compared to June 2009. The preliminary figures, which city officials released Monday and are subject to change when full collections are tallied, represent a decrease in collections from $1,203,304 in June 2009 to $1,162,809 in June 2010. The 3.4 percent decrease is Steamboat's lowest monthly percent decrease since February. City sales and use tax auditor Rachelle Summers said that's encouraging news.

"I think it's a good sign," she said Monday. "In the next few months, maybe we'll actually be flat with the previous year."

Businesses at the base of Mount Werner were better than flat in June. Base area sales tax collections increased about 12.6 percent compared to June 2009, rising from $99,909 in that month to $112,492 this year.

Steamboat Vil­­lage Brokers prin­­cipal David Baldinger Jr. is chairman of the Urban Rede­velopment Area Advisory Com­mittee, which guides redevelopment at the ski base. He said the lack of roadwork this summer could be facilitating the flow of people to base area businesses. Redevelopment work this summer is focusing on underground infrastructure near Gondola Square.

"It just seems like people are circulating around the base area much more than they have in the past," Baldinger said. "This year, there's been a much better promotional effort to let people know that we're open."

He said that effort is due at least in part to the Mountain Village Partnership, a group of base area stakeholders formed this year to promote the ski base.

"It's amazing, the level of participation of both old and new business owners," Baldinger said. "I'm really encouraged with the people that are working on that."

Summers speculated that the downtown repaving project, which continued through June along Lincoln Avenue, also could have steered more people to Mount Werner. Downtown sales tax collections dipped about 8.6 percent in June compared to June 2009.

The city has budgeted a 10 percent decrease in sales tax revenues for 2010. That decrease is on top of the 18 percent decrease budgeted in 2009. June's report puts the city well within its budgeted decrease at about a 4.5 percent decrease year-to-date, compared to total collections at this time last year. The city had collected $8,762,853 in sales tax revenue through June 2009, compared to $8,372,139 through June this year.

Summers said the figures could bode well for coming months.

"When you're a sales tax auditor you're not supposed to be optimistic, but maybe if you're living in Steamboat, you can be," she said.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com