November sales tax up 4 percent

A 4 percent increase in November's sales tax revenue is good news for the city, but December is expected to bring even better news.

November's 4 percent increase over November 2002 brought in $766,601 in sales tax revenue and brought the year to date total to $12.14 million, just O.13 percent less than last year.

City Finance Director Don Taylor said while November was strong, December also is likely to increase. Good news for the city, which had seen sales tax steadily drop for most of the year. Historically, December falls after March as the largest revenue-producing month of the year.

Taylor said it was too early to tell if December would bring in enough money to pull 2003 total year sales tax collections above 2002.

Executive Vice President of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Sandy Evans Hall said there were a number of record-breaking days in December, which could help sales tax revenue exceed the $1.69 million that was generated last December.

Evans Hall noted that the 4 percent increase in November's sales tax only brought in about $30,000 more than November 2002 in revenue. She said the only major factor she could explain for the change was the heavy amounts of snow that fell on Steamboat early in the month.

For November, sales tax collection increases occurred in restaurants, utilities and miscellaneous retail but were down for lodging, sporting goods and liquor stores.

The accommodation tax saw a 1.75 percent decrease, bringing in $8,013. Year to date the lodging tax is down by almost 5 percent with $517,893 collected through November.

Sales tax collections decreased for the town and mountain area, but large increases were seen regionally and in the West Steamboat area.

Evans Hall said lodging numbers in January looked soft, but February and March were about even to last year.

"We still have a lot of time and good promotions out there," she said

Even with the number of reservations staying the same for some of December, Evans Hall said it looks like people are spending more money once they get to Steamboat. Those who downsized their hotel rooms last year tended to upsize their rooms this year, she said.

"I think we are going to have a really good year," Evans Hall said. "This summer is looking up, and this winter is going to be just fine."

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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