Wednesday, July 20, 2011

City tax receipts indicate soft spring

Ketchum LOT revenues decline in May, hurt recovery

Express Staff Writer

Recent local-option tax collections in Ketchum were a disappointment to those who had been viewing previous months' figures as a sign of a resurgent local economy.

LOT receipts reported to the city in June for business conducted in May show a 5.34 percent decline over the same month last year, or $3,873, for a monthly total of $68,657.

Three out of five LOT categories posted declines. A fourth posted just a 2 percent increase. The fifth showed an increase amounting to less than $1,500.

"We had a little bit of a difficult month," City Administrator Gary Marks said.

Ketchum collects a 2 percent sales tax on lodging and by-the-glass liquor sales, and a 1 percent tax on retail sales and building materials.

The champion category for LOT collections for April was retail, which saw a nearly 12 percent increase over the same month in 2010. The most recent figures, however, show that category rose just 2 percent, a $865 increase, over May 2010.

"Retail is still up, but barely," Marks said.

Liquor receipts fell 1.5 percent, the second month of declines, for a monthly take of $7,432.

Marks said the theory that when times are tough, people drink more is not holding up.

Room receipts plunged nearly 24 percent, taking in just $2,323, a $728 drop from June 2010 reports.

"Room receipts are continuing to take a beating," Marks said. "It reinforces the idea I've had over the last few months that we're experiencing a split recovery of sorts, and a meager one at that."

Condominium receipts jumped 264 percent. The June report shows monthly receipts of $2,035, compared with $558 last June.

Building materials saw a third straight month of double-digit declines. That category dropped 29 percent, or $5,372, for a June figure of $13,200.

The next LOT report will show early activity for the busy and economically important summer season.

"These summer months are huge months for us," Marks said. "We're going to be looking for some good numbers. I'm going to be hopeful for a better result."

Construction activity may be the category least likely to show gains in the near future.

"I'm not sure we're going to be able to expect that to come back over the summer months," Marks said. "Our best hopes are with retail and with hotel rooms."

Rebecca Meany:

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