Friday, January 20, 2012

Ketchum LOT inches up

Building materials jump

Express Staff Writer

The down economy has pummeled the construction industry, but building-materials suppliers had at least one good month recently.

The city's local-option tax receipts for December, showing business activity in November, posted a 1.82 percent increase over the same month the previous year. Total receipts so far for the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, are up 4.38 percent.

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.

Two categories showed steep declines in the latest figures—room receipts and condominium receipts—but the three other categories posted increases.

"It looks like a continuation of what we've been observing," said City Administrator Gary Marks. "The retail economy seems to be flat or improving slightly and yet the hospitality industry continues to fall."

"Maybe the bright light on this is that construction is up," he added. "They've been down consistently in the downturn."

Liquor receipts posted a 6.5 percent gain, or $555, though they're down 1 percent in year-to-date comparisons.

The "other retail" category saw a tiny 1.65 percent increase, or $1,023. That category is up 12.75 percent from last year at this time, however.

Most surprising is the 15.2 percent increase, or $1,999, in building materials over the same month last year. Exact reasons for that increase can't be pinpointed because the city is not allowed to release figures for particular businesses, but Ketchum building official Cedric Knehans said the numbers could reflect building upgrades rather than new construction.

"We've got remodel jobs," he said, but added, "I'm not inundated with permit applications at this point."

The building materials category is down 10.57 percent in year-to-date comparisons.

Room receipts for November activity plunged nearly 40 percent, or $1,226, from the same month last year. That category is down 29 percent so far this fiscal year.

Condo receipts fell 44 percent, taking in $735 less than the same month last year. Fiscal-year totals show a 16 percent decrease.

The latest figures are yet another painful sign that the tourism industry has yet to bounce back.

Locals are continuing to go about their lives, Marks said, "but the visitors aren't coming like they used to."

LOT receipts for the important December holiday period should be available in February.

Rebecca Meany:

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