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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2004

News

LOT revenues bring smiles

Ketchum figures up seventh straight months


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum city officials are smiling about a sustained upward trend in local option tax revenues, the cityís primary indicator of economic activity.

A report released by city administrators this week indicates that local option tax revenues in April exceeded those of April 2003 by approximately $13,000. April was the seventh straight month in the 2003-2004 fiscal year that LOT revenues surpassed those from the previous fiscal year.

"Iím real happy with the economy," Ketchum City Council President Randy Hall said Monday, May 3, after the latest figures were released. "All in all, itís good."

Carol Waller, executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, concurred.

"I think certainly toward the end of (last) year the economy turned the corner, so to speak," she said.

The upward trend in LOT revenues is indeed meaningful to the city. Approximately 25 percent of Ketchumís general operating revenues come from the collection of local option taxes.

Since 1978, the city has levied a 1 percent sales tax on non-food retail items, as well as a 2 percent tax on hotel rooms and by-the-drink liquor sales. The city also charges a 1 percent local option tax on the sales of building materials.

The Chamber has estimated that tourists generate approximately 80 percent of the total local option tax receipts in the Ketchum area.

The city in its 2003-2004 fiscal budget has estimated it will collect $1,900,000 in LOT receipts from October 2003 through September 2004.

Following national economic trends, LOT revenues in the 2002-2003 fiscal year dropped noticeably, falling below the $1,900,000 mark for the first time in four years.

Through the first seven months of the current fiscal year, the city has collected $32,000 more than the estimated projections for LOT revenues.

The new April LOT revenues for the city actually correlate to taxes collected by businesses during the month of March. The city collects the funds the month after the taxes were applied to business sales.

The April figures indicate that March sales of liquor were up 10 percent over the previous year and retail sales were up 21 percent. Receipts from sales of building materials, hotel rooms and vacation rentals were down for the month.

The LOT numbers correspond with local reports that unusually warm weather in March likely discouraged some visitors from coming to Ketchum and Sun Valley to ski.

"We actually had a busier February this year than March," Waller said.

March LOT revenues in Ketchum, which reflect actual sales in February, were up sharply, approximately $34,000 over those from March 2003.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.





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