May sales tax collections drop |

May sales tax collections drop

Glenwood Springs sales tax revenues dropped in May for the first time in two years, according to the city’s most recent report.

May 2003 collections dipped 4.7 percent to $817,000, compared to collections of $858,000 in 2002. In May of 2001, collections were $840,000.

City finance director Mike Harman doesn’t have an off-the-cuff explanation for the drop, but compared Glenwood to other Colorado mountain towns.

“We’re doing a little better than a lot of them are,” Harman said.

Accommodation tax revenues dropped for the fourth straight month in May. Collections for overnight stays at the city’s lodges in May 2003 were $39,000, down 4.8 percent compared to May of 2002, which brought in $41,000. Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association officials were not available for comment.

Sales tax reports are not yet available for June, but comments from business owners for the month’s sales are mixed.

“We had an excellent June,” said Kathie Warner, owner of the Sears store in the Glenwood Springs Mall.

Through the Looking Glass bookstore owner Sharon Graves said her June “wasn’t great,” and Harry Potter sales were about the only highlight.

“Most other merchants I’ve talked to will probably say the same thing,” said Graves, whose store is located at 816 Grand Ave.

Warner said the market for her Sears store includes Aspen, Rifle and Vail. The product line in the 6,000-square-foot showroom includes appliances, vacuum cleaners, tools, sheds, exercise equipment, lawn mowers, gas grills, home and garden supplies and air conditioners.

“Our air conditioner sales are way up,” said Warner, who operates the store with her husband, Rick.

Warner said she can’t put her finger on the reason for the healthy June, but Sears’ zero financing and free home delivery have been a big help.

At Through the Looking Glass, Graves said tourists are a good part of her customer base, but those folks have been less numerous this year than in the past. Glenwood Springs relies on Front Range tourists, and Graves said the Denver area economy has been hurt by layoffs in the high-tech and airline industries.

She is also seeing fewer foreign customers, and retirees, than in the past.

Graves said she stocks the store after closing hours at night, and in the past there has been a steady stream of tourists passing by her windows. This year, those numbers are also down.

“I think people are just staying home, for a variety of reasons,” Graves said.

Year-to-date sales tax collections in Glenwood Springs from January through May are down 1.4 percent compared to the same period in 2002. To date, Glenwood has collected $3.8 million in sales taxes, compared to $3.85 million during the same period last year.

In nearby Carbondale, sales tax collections for May were up 1.7 percent compared to May of 2002.

Rifle sales tax revenues were off just 0.14 percent for May 2003, compared to May 2002.

For Glenwood Springs year-to-date, eight of 11 sales tax collection categories are down. The furniture/home furnishings category saw the biggest drop, at 28 percent, followed by “all other” at 12 percent, motel/hotel at 10 percent, transportation/utilities at 6 percent, eating/drinking and general merchandise at 3 percent respectively, building materials at 1.6 percent, and apparel/accessories at 1.2 percent.

Miscellaneous retail in Glenwood Springs is up 22 percent, food stores are up 2 percent, and automotive/service stations are up 0.5 percent.

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