Glenwood Springs June sales taxes up 4 percent |

Glenwood Springs June sales taxes up 4 percent

Heather McGregor Post IndependentGlenwood Springs sales tax revenues in the first half of the year, from January through June, show that even in a recession, sales were still higher in 2009, 2010 and 2011 than they were from 2001 through 2005. The city's accommodations tax, which funds tourism marketing, remains strong.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The city saw its biggest year-over-year sales tax gain in some time for June, when collections came in 4.05 percent over the same month last year, according to the mid-year sales tax report issued recently.

City Finance Director Michael Harman reported an increase from $1,233,851 for June of 2010 to $1,283,867 for June of this year, an increase of $50,016.

That brought the total collected for the first six months of 2011 to $6,073,693, for a 0.43 percent increase year-to-date compared to last year.

It’s the first cumulative sales tax increase and the largest monthly comparison increase the city has seen since the middle of 2008, just before the national recession took hold locally.

To date this year, only January and May were down compared to the same months last year, with increases of less than 1 percent recorded for February, March and April.

Accommodations (lodging) taxes for Glenwood Springs also remain strong, following another 8.19 percent increase in June. To date, lodging tax collections are up slightly more than 8 percent for the year.

Still, neither sales nor lodging tax collections are anywhere near the record amounts taken in during the boom years of 2006 and 2007, and even into the first three quarters of 2008.

At the mid-year juncture, sales taxes collected through the first six months of those years were around $7.5 million.

Year-end numbers ranged from $14.9 million in 2006 to $16.5 million in 2007, up significantly from the typical $10 million to $11 million per year collected during the period from 2001-2005.

The big declines hit in 2009 and 2010, when sales tax collections fell to $13.6 million and $13 million, respectively.

This year’s city budget was initially based on sales taxes returning to 2009 levels, plus 5 percent. Those projections were adjusted after the first quarter, and the city now anticipates sales taxes coming in roughly the same as last year.

In March, City Council also directed city manager Jeff Hecksel to implement a series of budget reductions totaling $749,825, based on the lower-than-projected revenue figures.

The cuts included a 3 percent reduction in general fund spending across all departments, three furlough days for city employees, and suspension of the city’s 1 percent retirement fund match for workers enrolled in the program.

Although neighboring Glenwood Springs and Basalt posted June sales tax gains of 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively, Carbondale was the odd town out.

Carbondale sales taxes for June of this year compared to June 2010 were down 0.3 percent, from $296,715 collected last June to $295,816 this past June.

Year-to-date, the town of Carbondale is down 1.5 percent in its sales tax collections compared to the first six months of 2010, according to acting town manager and finance director Nancy Barnett.

To date, the town has taken in $1,704,569 in sales taxes, compared to $1,731,385 for the first half of last year. Only one month this year, February, saw a positive gain over last year of 2.16 percent, while December of 2010 was also up compared to December 2009.

“I am encouraged, though,” Barnett said. “We have some new businesses coming in, and July is usually a pretty busy month. I’m anxious to see how that comes in.”

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