Friday, November 10, 2006

Sun Valley LOT revenues down for fiscal year

Express Staff Writer

Local options tax receipts for the city of Sun Valley declined between October 2005 and October 2006, mainly a result of a large, one-time payment received in September 2005.

Sun Valley city officials reported this week that the city brought in roughly $1.4 million in LOT revenues over the 2006 fiscal year, a net loss of 8 percent from fiscal year 2005. Officials want to make clear that the one-time payment skewed last year's numbers.

When the LOT totals are compared to the 2004 fiscal year, there was actually a net gain in total receipts for 2006.

In September, the city reported LOT lodging-related receipts of approximately $35,000, a 58 percent decrease from the previous September. According to Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbbach, the decrease in lodging can be attributed to three reasons, none of which point to a declining economy. First, The Governor's Challenge Golf Tournament, which is usually held in September, has been moved to June. Second, Sinclair Oil Corp. holds its conference in Sun Valley every other year, and this was the off year. Finally, Friedman Memorial Airport's closure at the end of September forced a large group to cancel its reservations.

Liquor and retail sales receipts were also down for the month of September, but the retail decrease is a direct result of the one-time payment received last year. Liquor sales make up a very small portion of total receipts.

The figures are in no way an indication of a declining economy, said Carol Waller, executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

It is worth noting that between November 2005 and February 2006, LOT receipts were up nearly 25 percent. November 2005 alone brought in $34,870, a 41 percent increase from the same month the previous year.

Along with property tax revenue, LOT revenues are a critical source of income for the city. In the current fiscal year, LOT collections account for 36 percent the city's general fund income, Sun Valley Financial Manager Michelle Frostenson said.

The chamber is tabulating the total numbers for Sun Valley and Ketchum and should make results available early next week, Waller said.

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