Sales tax growth not limited to Meadows |

Sales tax growth not limited to Meadows

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” Although open for less than two years, Glenwood Meadows already accounts for more than a fifth of all sales tax revenues being generated in Glenwood Springs, according to a new report.

That news may not be all that surprising, considering that total city sales tax revenues grew by 32 percent last year, the first full year the new shopping complex was open. Perhaps more notable, a new breakdown of city sales tax revenues by region shows that Glenwood Meadows was only part of the reason for the banner sales year, as growth occurred across many parts of town.

The data is revealed in a report issued by city finance director Mike Harman.

It shows that of the nearly $14.9 million in revenue last year, 21.4 percent, or $3.2 million, came from Glenwood Meadows. That development opened in late 2005 and is anchored by the Target and Lowe’s Home Improvement big-box stores.

Glenwood Meadows’ revenues quadrupled over 2005, as it didn’t open until late that year. However, revenue growth occurred almost all over town, with the exception of Roaring Fork Marketplace, which dipped 1.2 percent.

Roaring Fork Marketplace, anchored by Wal-Mart, still accounts for nearly 13 percent of the city’s total sales tax revenues. It trails only Glenwood Meadows and 11th through 23rd streets, which includes Safeway and City Market and brings in almost 14 percent.

The comparison of 2005 and 2006 revenues comes with an important caveat. Voters approved a 0.25-percent increase in the city’s street tax in November 2005, with the increase taking effect last year. That boosted the city’s total sales tax rate from 3.45 to 3.7 percent, a 7.2 percent increase.

By that measure, sales in the 11th through 23rd street area actually declined slightly last year, even though tax revenues rose 5.5 percent. However, that area suffered from the closing of the True Value hardware store at the start of last year to make way for the Glenwood Springs High School expansion.

The dropoff at Roaring Fork Marketplace looks even worse when the tax increase is taken into account. But that shopping complex was hit by the move of Gart, now the Sports Authority, to Glenwood Meadows upon its opening. The old Gart site remained vacant for most of 2006 before Office Depot opened there.

Meanwhile, revenues in other areas of town easily exceeded the 7.2 percent increases that would have resulted from the sales take hike alone.

Harman’s report is especially revealing in the case of downtown. The arrival of Glenwood Meadows was accompanied by some concern that it could harm downtown, but another school of thought held that it could aid the city’s core by bringing more people to town. As it turned out, sales tax revenues grew by 14.5 percent between Seventh and 11th streets last year.

Harman says there’s no way to know if growth downtown and elsewhere in the city would have been higher or lower if Glenwood Meadows hadn’t opened. But he thinks that growth shows that last year wasn’t a good year just for Glenwood Meadows.

“I think the overall economy just was stronger this last year. It’s like any other time, it’s got the up cycle and the down cycle and right now it looks like it’s an up one,” Harman said.

That’s important for Glenwood Springs, which relies on sales tax as its chief source of revenue. The city had undergone an economic slump following the city’s 2002 Coal Seam Fire, the national economic slowdown that followed the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the arrival of new commercial competition in places such as Rifle.

Harman said he wasn’t surprised that Glenwood Meadows already is such a sizable contributor to the city’s revenue stream. Still, “it’s definitely been a shot in the arm,” he said.

Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119

Post Independent, Glenwood Spring Colorado CO

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