City sales taxes end year 7.4% up from ’13
City of Glenwood Springs retail sales for 2014 came in nearly 7.4 percent over the previous year, thanks in part to a rebound in general merchandise sales and large increases in the building materials, furniture, automotive and lodging sectors.
According to City Finance Director Mike Harman, the final sales tax numbers are still being refined. But the preliminary year-end sales tax report indicates a 7.37 percent increase in retail sales over 2013.
The city collected almost $15.5 million in sales taxes for the year. That’s up from $14.4 million the previous year, and reflects a total of about $420 million worth of retail sales in Glenwood Springs for the year, based on the city’s 3.7 percent sales tax rate.
December saw a more modest increase in retail activity compared with some months during the last half of 2014, but was still up about 6.6 percent from the same month in 2013.
July, September, October and November saw double-digit percentage increases over the previous year.
“Overall, the year ended much better than budgeted or anticipated,” Harman said. The city planned its 2014 budget based on a 2 percent increase in sales taxes.
Still, the year-end numbers are about 6.48 percent lower than the peak year for retail sales activity in Glenwood Springs in 2007, prior to the national recession that hit in late 2008, he said.
Much of that relates to a steady decline in recent years in the largest single retail category for the city, general merchandise, which includes the bigger retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart. Sales in that category for last year were up 0.23 percent over 2013.
The advent of retail recreational marijuana sales in early 2014 is also reflected in the sales tax numbers. The miscellaneous retail category, where marijuana sales are recorded, was up 12.5 percent for the year, according to the year-end report.
A strong tourism season was also reflected in the city’s lodging sales numbers. Regular sales taxes collected on overnight stays were up 14.1 percent, and the city’s special accommodations tax brought in 15.1 percent more revenues compared to 2013.
December in particular was a strong month on the lodging front. Accommodations taxes, which support the city’s tourism promotion efforts, were up 15.9 percent in December, compared to the same month in 2013.
Looking at retail sales by sector for 2014, automobile sales and service led the way with a 16 percent increase over the previous year. Furniture sales were up 12 percent, building materials and supplies was up 11 percent, restaurants and bar sales were up 8.1 percent, and food store sales were 5.6 percent.
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A fire in a building at Willits Town Center Thursday night forced Roaring Fork Fire Rescue to prepare for the worst because of residences on the upper two stories. Fortunately the fire was confined to an HVAC unit on the roof.