Steamboat sales tax dips 6 percent in March |

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Steamboat sales tax dips 6 percent in March

Figures show slightly larger decrease than expected

March sales tax numbers

■ Total collections in March 2008: $2,570,231

■ Total collections in March 2009: $2,022,088

■ Total collections in March 2010: $1,901,035

■ Percent change, March 2009 to March 2010: -6

Category March 2009 March 2010 Percent change

Misc. retail $731,449 $691,804 -5.4

Lodging and Amenities $548,067 $488,667 -10.8

Sporting goods $182,149 $187,033 +2.7

Utilities $182,337 $177,006 -2.9

Restaurants $318,687 $300,061 -5.8

Liquor stores $59,399 $56,465 -4.9

Area March 2009 March 2010 Percent change

Downtown $320,431 $315,663 -1.5

Base area $701,034 $671,478 -4.2

U.S. 40 corridor $602,022 $552,317 -8.3

Regional $259,290 $224,542 -13.4

West Steamboat $139,311 $137,035 -1.6

Source: City of Steamboat Springs, in a preliminary report that is subject to change after full collections are received.

— After a relatively encouraging February, March sales tax figures showed more of a decrease than at least one city official expected.

The city collected a total of $1,901,035 in March sales tax revenue, compared to $2,022,088 in March 2009, according to a preliminary report released Monday. March collections were the month's lowest in Steamboat since 2004. The collections put Steamboat's year-to-date total at $5,692,289, which is 5.5 percent below the first three months of 2009 but within the city's budget projections.

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.

February sales tax collections dipped just 3 percent compared to February 2009.

But city revenue supervisor Kim Weber noted that Feb­­ruary's sales tax figures were slightly misleading because they included about $75,000 from sales-taxable items discovered during a building-use tax reconciliation process with a large downtown development.

Still, city officials had hoped February indicated not only some breathing room in the budget, but also a boost in local sales that could carry into March.

"We didn't anticipate going down 6 percent," Finance Director Debra Hinsvark said Monday about the March figures.

Sales tax revenues from spor­­ting goods continued to show a modest gain, however, increaseing nearly 3 percent in March compared to March 2009 and matching the category's increase seen in February.

But the local lodging industry continued its winter-long struggles, following an 11.5 percent drop in February sales tax revenue with a 10.8 percent decrease in March.

The last time city sales tax collections showed an increase from the corresponding month from the previous year was August 2008, when the city collected about $45,000 more than it did in August 2007. Every month since then, sales tax collections have been less than those from the same month a year earlier.

"Unfortunately, (sales tax collections) still indicate a decline in the strength of the local economy — especially when you consider that decline was in addition to the decline from the same month a year ago," City Manager Jon Roberts said. "It's a decline on top of a decline."