Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ketchum LOT continues wild ride

Holiday-season tax receipts up 6 percent

Express Staff Writer

Graphic courtesy city of Ketchum 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.

The good news in Ketchum's most recent local-option tax figures is that total receipts are up, and three of five categories showed increases.

The bad news is that room receipts posted a fourth straight decrease this fiscal year.

LOT—sometimes called the "tourist tax"—is charged monthly to Ketchum's main business categories, offering a glimpse into the health of the economy as measured by visitor activity.

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 for January, reflecting transactions that occurred in December, increased 6.32 percent, or $13,322, over the same month the previous year.

Categories with the biggest gains were liquor receipts, with a 37.2 percent increase, or $6,168, and condominium receipts, up 37.3 percent, or $3,857. So far this fiscal year, liquor is up 11 percent and condos are up 14 percent.

Dave Hausmann, owner of Lefty's Bar & Grill, said his business saw a lot of activity over the holidays.

"We had a really good December," he said. "It was a good tourist season."

He said he's feeling better about the economy, but experience has taught him to not have outsized expectations.

"It's kind of always been a one-day-at-a-time or one-season-at-a-time [business]," he said.

Strong tourist activity didn't show up in the hotel sector, however. Room receipts fell nearly 17 percent, with a $754 drop. The category is down almost 27 percent for the fiscal year.

The "other retail" category declined one percent, taking in $1,645 less than the same month the year before. Fiscal year totals, however, are up 6.76 percent.

Another category—building materials—also posted a strong showing, with a 33.5 percent increase, or $5,695, for a second straight month of increases. The category is down 0.1 percent so far this fiscal year after a rough start.

In the first quarter of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, total LOT figures are up 5.14 percent over the same quarter of fiscal 2011.

Rebecca Meany:

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