Glenwood tax revenues up 11 percent in October
Local Black Friday sales figures won’t be available until February, but October sales tax figures released Wednesday show that Glenwood Springs is entering the holiday shopping season on the heels of a strong summer and fall.
October sales tax revenues exceeded last year by 11.4 percent, resulting in a cumulative gain of 7 percent over the first 10 months of 2013.
Accommodations tax — a key indicator of tourist activity — was a dramatic 27.5 percent higher than October 2013 and has already exceeded last year’s total.
Automotive sales are up 14.8 percent, miscellaneous retail — which includes retail marijuana — is up 13.3 percent, and furniture and home furnishings have seen a 12.7 percent increase.
That leaves overall tax revenue for the first 10 months 2014 just shy of 2008 figures and well above any year since then.
“This is a great year, the numbers are showing it,” said Finance Director Mike Harman. “It’s rebounding very strongly from what it was five, six years ago when we were in the depression.”
“These are good reports to be getting,” agreed Glenwood Mayor Leo McKinney. “A lot of the businesses in town have really gone the extra mile to attract the visitors’ dollars as well as the people who live here.”
If the trends hold, 2014 could even exceed pre-recession levels, but with the biggest shopping month of the year just beginning, it’s too early to predict the final tally. General merchandise sales are actually down slightly, and the Internet can be a major competitor for the holidays.
“People are buying more and more online, and those are tax dollars that aren’t being collected,” McKinney said.
“Certainly from the city’s perspective, we’re all glad to see you shop locally to support the businesses. We all depend on them to succeed for our local economy,” said City Manager Jeff Hecksel,” but there are also some benefits to shopping locally from a consumer standpoint.”
Hecksel highlighted instant gratification, customer service, ease of returns and long-term support that goes with buying in person.
Even if the holidays don’t measure up, Glenwood Springs is looking at a solid year for sales tax and a spectacular year for accommodations.
Rifle, meanwhile is “holding its own,” according to finance director Charles Kelty, with a slight 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue from September 2013 to September 2014.
“We’re still playing catch-up from 2008, but we’re getting there, and I’m not complaining a bit,” Hecksel said. “That money will accumulate, and then we’ll turn around and use it and put it right back into the community. The city’s a beneficiary, and it’s also nice to see that other people are doing well.”
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Current owners, struggling with declining breakfast customers and staffing, hope to sell the iconic restaurant near the entrance to Carbondale.