Aspen’s December sales tax collections flat |

Aspen’s December sales tax collections flat

ASPEN – The city of Aspen’s sales tax revenue for December remained flat over the previ­ous year, marking the first time in 15 months that collections weren’t in the negative figures.

The last time sales tax collections increased over the previous year was in August 2008, when revenue was up 6 per­cent over the same month in the previous year, according to City Finance Director Don Taylor. Ever since, sales tax revenue has been on the decline.

According to the city’s consumption tax report, which was released Friday, taxable sales for December were the same as the same month in 2008. However, starting last September, the city’s tax rate was reduced from 2.2 percent to 2.1 percent, or stated another way, the rate is now 4.5 percent lower than prior to September.

“The current report suggests Aspen’s recent declining economy is beginning to stabilize,” the report states. Taylor added that while December’s numbers are encouraging, Aspen is not out of the woods quite yet.

“I think it’s going to be slow,” he said of Aspen economy’s recovering from the recession.

Mayor Mick Ireland said the communi­ty and the resort appear to be more upbeat, which is a strong sign of recovery even though the local economy has flat­tened.

Categories that are dependent on tourist-oriented sales didn’t fare well in December. While restaurants and bars were up 11 percent, the industry was down 11 percent for the year. That’s partly because of the New Year’s Eve incident of 2008, when a bomb scare shut down downtown Aspen.

Tourist accommodations, though showing some improvement, are still down and saw a decrease every month in 2009.

Lodging tax collections for December were down 11 percent from the same month in 2008. Collections for the year were down 25 per­cent, according to the report.

Aspen’s portion of Pitkin County’s sale tax for November 2009 was down 9 percent from 2008.

Year-to-date activity for the Wheeler and the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) collections through January 2010 declined 61 percent compared to January 2009. Both of the taxes reflect a year-to-­date amount below 2009, most likely as a result of closing units at The Residences at The Little Nell and other fractional sales in 2009.

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