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August sales tax revenues plummet in Glenwood

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentLaura Speck, owner of The Silver Bead at the King Mall on Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs, completes a credit card purchase for customer Nathan Stowe on Thursday.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Sales tax revenues in Glenwood Springs dropped for the 15th consecutive month in August, down 20.5 percent from the previous year.

Through August, Glenwood Springs sales tax revenues are down 17.5 percent compared to 2008. In the first eight months of 2009, the city has collected 54 percent of the 2008 year-end total, according to a monthly report compiled by the city’s Finance Department.

Sales tax revenues yielded $16,360,343 in 2008, while the first eight months of 2009 have produced just $8,841,471.



The continuing decline is concerning, conceded City Manager Jeff Hecksel.

“But one month is not reflective of the year,” Hecksel added. “You can look at the numbers in there and I believe June and July were better numbers than the previous months, but August was not as good.”



Despite decreases, June, July and August have been the strongest months so far this year, accounting for 42 percent of the year’s total sales tax revenues through August.

Hecksel explained that, while even the best months of the year have seen huge decreases, the trend was fairly constant, with the summer months remaining as the highest grossing months.

Laura Speck, owner of The Silver Bead, a bead and jewelry shop located in the King Mall in downtown Glenwood Springs, said the summer tourist season started unusually slowly at her store, but finished with a strong August.



“We didn’t pick up until the end of July,” Speck said. “August was the best month I’ve had all year.”

Speck, who’s worked at The Silver Bead for seven years, said, “Nothing this year is like what business has been in the past.

“I think people have to re-evaluate what is normal now,” she added.

There are other ways to evaluate August’s sales tax performance.

While August still brought in $1,172,376, down $302,967 from August 2008, the month was also the lowest August the city has seen in terms of sales tax revenues since 2005. And August produced the single largest decline in revenues, compared to the same month a year ago, so far this year. May and March followed with decreases of 20.3 and 19 percent, respectively, compared to the same month in 2008.

The highest grossing months for sales tax revenues over the past decade have been March, June, July, August, September and December. The report showed that trend continued through August of this year, despite the decreases.

“Those are the kinds of things we look at,” Hecksel said. “Did [sales tax] remain constant? Did it go up and down? What is the trend?”

Hecksel said he expects the remaining months of 2009 will likely see decreases similar to the previous eight months. He said the fall months are usually pretty good, with an influx of hunters and other visitors coming through town.

The year could finish on a relatively strong note, if history is any indication, Hecksel noted, because December has consistently been the strongest month of the year for the past decade. But he still expects a decline in December revenues, compared to last year.

“December is the biggest month of the year for sales tax revenues,” Hecksel said. “But, the sales tax [numbers] by this time would suggest not as strong of a holiday shopping season as in the past.”


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