Friday, August 6, 2010

Ketchum LOT gets boost from building

June building-materials sales increase 40 percent over a year ago

Express Staff Writer

For the first time in nearly two years, Ketchum's building industry saw a month of growth over the same month of the previous year. And it wasn't a mere 1 percent or fraction-of-a-percent growth, but a 40 percent bound over June 2009, according to the city's June local-option tax report released Tuesday.

The city's local-option-tax revenues broadly measure Ketchum business. 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.

The city collected $29,600 in LOT revenue from sales of building materials, while June 2009 brought in $21,000. Many months of the past two years have experienced building-material sales amounting to only half of the previous year. This actually includes June 2009, which means that even though June saw a notable improvement over June 2009, this isn't as impressive as one would assume. June 2009 wasn't a typical month for construction.

A typical June pulls in $50,000 in building-materials taxes, according to an average calculated by using data back to the 1999 fiscal year, which was inflated to match the dollar's current value. June was $20,000 short of its average despite outdoing 2009.

This year hasn't provided a lot of big construction projects. The city's list of building permits shows $11.5 million in projects since January. Only two of the 59 permits are for new buildings. One was a garage costing $10,000 to construct, and the other was a $5.7 million new residence. If it weren't for this one house, Ketchum construction work would be cut in half.

However, most projects have been smaller tasks, such as remodels, residential additions, adding a deck or repairs. Not a single developer has come forth with plans to start a new commercial building, multi-family dwelling, condominium or hotel this year, which would boost this sector.

Total Ketchum LOT for June was about $112,800, a mere $1,000 behind last year. But this is 38 percent shy of the month's $182,900 average.

Retail, hotel rooms, and liquor sales were below June 2009, but condominium rentals almost doubled from a year ago. However, condos account for the smallest amount of LOT, bringing in $2,500.

Trevon Milliard:

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