Winning streak over for growth in sales tax take |

Winning streak over for growth in sales tax take

More than a decade of nearly unimpeded sales tax growth in Glenwood Springs could be finished.

For the first time since the 1980s, Glenwood Springs sales tax revenues were down for two months in a row. Revenues dropped in December 2001 and January 2002 from sales taxes collected in those months the previous years.

Tax revenues were down 2.2 percent in December 2001 and 3.6 percent in January 2002, according to city figures.

The good news, according to city manager Mike Copp, is that sales tax revenues were still up for 2001 as a whole.

“We were still up about 3.3 percent over the year, which we’re happy with,” Copp said.

December was the first month to show decreased sales tax revenues for the city since August 1997, when sales tax revenues dropped by just .00035 percent – a decline of just $258 from the same month in 1996.

That August 1997 drop is the only time sales taxes failed to increase – in many cases dramatically – since the 1980s, Copp said.

Copp blames the drop on a bad snow season and the nationwide recession.

“We’re not unique in that,” he said.

Copp and other city officials are eagerly awaiting the release of February’s sales tax numbers, which are due sometime this week. While he’s hopeful for good news, he admitted that nobody’s really sure what to expect.

“It’s hard to project. I was surprised it was down,” he said of the two-month downturn.

Copp said he is not yet too concerned.

“If it starts to become a trend, we might have to adjust our expenditures,” he said. “We’re watching it and we know we have to be vigilant.”

The December sales tax figures were only recently released because they were temporarily lost due to a computer glitch, so it was a double whammy when both months came in lower than last year.

Marianne Virgili, director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, said the drop is not as bad as other areas have experienced.

“I think that in comparison to the rest of the region, state and country, Glenwood Springs is faring very well,” she said.

“I know they were suffering significant drops,” she said of Aspen and Vail.

Aspen recorded a 9.1 percent sales tax revenue drop in December 2001 and a 6.3 percent drop in January 2002. Vail showed a 6.4 percent sales tax revenue drop in December 2001 and a 7.9 percent drop in January 2002.

The Glenwood Springs accommodations tax receipts are not yet in, but Virgili remains optimistic. The chamber uses the revenues to promote off-season and midweek tourism.

“We got off to a slow start because of the snow, but Sunlight is very strong now,” she said of the winter season.

“I think we’re going to have a good summer. And with the addition of the tramway at Glenwood Caverns, I think it’s going to be off the charts,” she added.

The tram, which is still pending city approval, is planned to open in December.

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