Friday, August 5, 2011

Ketchum LOT figures back on plus side

Express Staff Writer

Best Western’s Tyrolean Lodge had about the same number of guests this June compared with last year, but July’s figures were higher.

The construction industry in Ketchum is still stuck in the doldrums, but other businesses that collect local-option taxes saw increases in June.

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

Total receipts collected in July, for transactions that occurred in June, increased 11.22 percent from the same month last year. The total collected was $125,475.

"It's all good except building materials, which is showing another very significant plunge," said City Administrator Gary Marks.

Marks said he has heard informal reports from businesses that activity is up, which seems reflected in the number of pedestrians and motorists in town.

"Walking around town in the last couple of months, you can see that there are folks in town, and I presume they're spending money," Marks said.

Room receipts showed big gains in July's numbers. That category posted a 54 percent increase, bringing in $8,348.

Hotels have been on a roller-coaster ride over the past year, showing declines in LOT collections as much as 24 percent and upticks as high as last month's 54 percent. So far this fiscal year, room receipts show a less than 1 percent decline over the same period of the previous fiscal year.

"Although five of the six categories are showing positive gains, the one that really strikes me is room receipts," Marks said. "It shows the return of the visitor. I'd been talking about a split recovery, where locals are opening up their wallets, but we hadn't enticed the visitors. That is a significant turn of events. If we have people like that staying in town, it has to relate to retail, which is up, (as well)."

Just where those guests landed is unclear. Tom Cahill, general manager of the Tyrolean Lodge, said his hotel didn't see a big jump in June figures.

"June was about what we did the year before," he said.

He feels good, however, about the direction things are going.

"I think the industry is coming back slowly but surely," he said. "We had a great July, so I can't complain."

The other-retail category jumped more than 17 percent for numbers reported in July, with a total collection of $76,592.

That category has not seen a decline at all this fiscal year, posting gains—some minute, some in the double-digits—every month. The gain overall is about 23 percent compared with the same time last fiscal year.

Liquor receipts were up nearly 28 percent, bringing in $15,291. The category is up 13 percent so far this fiscal year compared with last fiscal year.

Condominium receipts showed a small gain, of just 2.5 percent, for a total of $2,632. That category is up 15 percent overall so far this fiscal year.

Figures in the building materials category were disappointing, though not surprising. Numbers declined about 24 percent, bringing in just $22,611.

"It's a continuation of the trend of this year," Marks said.

Due to a strong showing in receipts reported to the city in October and November, the category is down less than 9 percent for the fiscal year. But a continued downward trend could widen the gap.

"If we sustain that for two more months, it might go double digits," Marks said. "The concern is what that reflects about construction."

Total receipts collected so far this fiscal year are up 15 percent.

"That's very encouraging," Marks said.

Rebecca Meany:

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