Friday, May 11, 2012

Ketchum LOT sees double-digit gain

All 5 categories in local-option-tax collections see increase

Express Staff Writer

Not only has Ketchum seen its seventh straight month of gains in local-option tax receipts, the latest report shows a double-digit percentage increase for the first time this fiscal year.

LOT receipts reported to the city in April, which represent transactions in March, were up 12.61 percent, or $18,179, over the same month last year.

The city 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 tax is paid by the purchaser, collected by the business, and then passed on to the city.

The strongest category was building materials, which saw a 51.94 percent jump, or $5,193, over the same period last year. The category has experienced wild swings this fiscal year and currently is down 0.65 percent in fiscal year totals.

That big gain for April, however, doesn't mean construction activity is surging. In this instance, it may come down to one large residential project.

"We had a very large home come in for construction," said City Administrator Gary Marks. "What you're seeing is materials for that house."

What's more, it represents just how bad things got during the recession, he said.

"This illustrates ... that in some of these categories like building materials, we sank so low over the last few years that any significant activity like a large luxury home comes on [in] building materials and it represents a big tick-up. We're at the point where even a single very large home makes a difference in our LOT numbers."

Room receipts also surged, posting a 48.7 percent, or $2,267, increase.

"We believe that has to do with spring break activity," Marks said.

Hotel specials and good snowpack on Bald Mountain in March may have contributed to better LOT receipts and may have brought more visitors to the valley during that time, he said.

That category was battered by double-digit declines the first four months of the fiscal year. It is down 7.31 percent in fiscal year totals.

Condominium rental receipts posted a 9.05 percent, or $693, increase. That category is up more than 9 percent this fiscal year.

Liquor receipts saw a 12.28 percent increase, taking in $2,398 more than the same month last year. So far this fiscal year, that category is up 4.3 percent.

The "other retail" category rose 7.45 percent, or $7,629. That category is up 7.77 percent in fiscal year totals.

Rebecca Meany:

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