Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ketchum businesses turn the table

April LOT shows 2nd consecutive month of increase

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum businesses made 1.5 percent more money in April 2010 than during the same month of 2009, a modest jump but a jump nonetheless.

At this point, any kind of growth is to be acknowledged. Up to March, the city had been caught in a year-and-a-half rut of business lagging 19 percent behind the same month of the previous year. March ended the rut, seeing a 0.06 percent gain over March 2009.

Ketchum business is broadly measured by the city's local-option-tax revenues. LOT—commonly called the "tourist tax"—is a 2 percent sales tax on lodging and by-the-glass liquor sales, and a 1 percent tax on retail sales and building materials. Because LOT pertains to Ketchum's main industries, it's a simple gauge for reading the city's economy. The city uses LOT money—collected monthly—for city services and upkeep of infrastructure, such as streets, that see more use because of visitors.

For April, the city collected $72,300 in LOT revenues, which amounts to $1,000 more than April 2009. Ketchum splits LOT into retail, hotel rooms, condominiums, liquor and building materials. Condo rentals saw a 59 percent improvement—the most of any category—but this is also the lowest-paying segment of LOT, amounting to a mere $980. Retail sales accounted for $45,000, the lion's share of LOT—a mere 0.68 percent gain over April 2009.

The hotel and building-material sectors saw 19 and 3 percent declines, respectively.

But these comparisons just show short-term changes. The true tellers are in long-term averages. When looking at months' 11-year averages, the slack month of April is the third worst of the year for businesses. The least amount of business is done in May, with November being the second worst.

Even though April beat its year-old mark by 1.5 percent, April LOT was still $37,000 shy of its $109,000 long-term average, a 33 percent gap.

Trevon Milliard:

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