Friday, July 15, 2005

Ketchum sales tax figures take a dip

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum local option taxes collected in June show a slight dip from the previous year's figure, but still exceeded both the month's budgeted amount and the six-year average.

June's LOT receipts, which represent purchases in May, total $108,903. That number is 2.5 percent less than last June's total of $111,695.

City staff budgeted $103,664 for the month, slightly more than the six-year average figure of $103,485.

"I think we're having a good year and I think next month will be just as good," said City Administrator Ron LeBlanc.

LOTs collected since October, the beginning of the fiscal year, show a 3.8 percent increase from the previous fiscal year's numbers.

Individually, however, LOT numbers for June were down in every category but retail sales.

Condominium-rental receipts fell approximately $117, translating into a 21 percent decline. November and December posted increases, while all other months in this fiscal year showed figures lower than the previous fiscal year's.

Hotel-room receipts were $313 less than last June, nearly a 7 percent dip. So far, only two months during this fiscal year, February and April, showed gains.

Liquor receipts, too, declined, dropping just over 11 percent from the June 2004 number.

Retail receipts saw a tiny .04 percent increase, or $22 more than last June's number.

"When room receipts and condo receipts are down, there are fewer people here to purchase liquor by the glass, clothes, books and other retail items typical tourists would buy," LeBlanc said.

Building-material receipts in May jumped 50 percent from the previous year's figure. In June, however, the number fell more than 3.6 percent.

"Building materials run on a different engine," LeBlanc said. "They're a function of the ability to get a foundation in the ground and start working."

Although there are several large projects under way, the spring's wet weather kept building-material receipts lower than they normally would be, he said.

"I suspect next month you will see a pretty good jump," LeBlanc said.

LOTs collected since October total $1,439,386. The city budgeted approximately $1.9 million through the fiscal year for its general fund.

"We're $74,157 ahead of where we thought we'd be," LeBlanc said.

Revenue in excess of $1.9 million but less than $2.3 million goes into the city's capital improvement fund. Anything more than $2.3 million goes to property tax relief.

"If we collect more than what we budget, we have to give it back ... to citizens," LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc said Ketchum and Sun Valley are in better positions than many resort towns to weather slow months.

"The economy here has two very strong seasons," he said. "The summer brings more people and more revenue. It distinguishes us from the other resorts. They make their business in winter or they don't make it at all."

Ketchum imposes a 1 percent LOT on sales of retail goods and building materials and a 2 percent tax on lodging rentals and sales of liquor by the drink.

The taxes typically make up about 25 percent of Ketchum's annual revenue.

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