Glenwood sales tax revenues slow down in last half of 2007 |

Glenwood sales tax revenues slow down in last half of 2007

Pete FowlerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS City sales tax revenues last year climbed to $16.49 million, their highest figure yet.At a 3.7 percent sales tax rate, that means Glenwood saw about $445.62 million in taxable sales last year, about $43 million more than the year before. But the last six months of the year didnt finish quite as strong as the city expected.As the months progressed, increases over the previous year fell closer to city budget estimates rather than being almost 10 percent above projections as they had been for the first six months of the year. Sales tax revenues are seen as a strong indicator of business activity and are a prime source of revenue for the city.The trend that was established in July and August pretty much continued through the end of the year, said city manager Jeff Hecksel. The second six months, we were not as ahead of budget as we were for the first six months.According to Hecksel, sales tax revenues by month were 8 percent ahead of budget for July, but by October they fell to 1 percent behind budget. November was 6 percent ahead of budget, and December, typically one of the best months, was just 1 percent ahead of budget.Clearly the trend shows sales taxes not being as strong as they had been, Hecksel said.But Hecksel said theres no cause for doom and gloom, as the city still finished 2007 about 5.7 percent ahead of its budget.Its anyones guess as to why the second half of the year didnt see sales tax figures increase as much as they did during the first half.Hecksel said the slowdown might have something to do with a national decline in economic activity, the home-loan crisis or possibly Costco in Eagle County diverting some of the business from Glenwood Springs.Joel Karr, owner of the Sacred Grounds Coffee House & Deli downtown, said, My opinion is that things are kind of depressed in the whole downtown area more than Ive ever seen them be. Im sure its not just one thing, but I do think theres some uncertainty with the economy. I just think that unfortunately, the downtown area is more of a tourist attraction than a place where the local people that live in Glenwood Springs want to spend time.He said downtown is loud, lacks parking and is not very bicycle- or pedestrian-friendly.Vicki VanEngelenburg, owner of A l Carte, said her sales were up for the last half of 2007 and activity in downtown seemed normal. But her business, a womens clothing store with home accessories and gifts, does not fully rely on tourists or foot traffic, she added.Pat Roberts, owner of Watersweeper and the Dwarf, said, I can tell you that traffic has not been good as far as people coming in and stuff like that. The weather, Im sure, didnt help anything.Roberts also said its tough to find a place to park downtown.Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering, said he did more business in the second half of 2007 than the first. He said the number of people in downtown seems to be about normal.No one could be immediately reached to discuss business at large anchor stores in the Meadows area, like Target and Lowes. Sales tax collection wont be broken down by area for 2007 until March or April, but in 2006, Meadows represented 21.4 percent of the citys tax revenues.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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