Glenwood Springs sales tax down 6 percent at mid-year

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A 6 percent decline in Glenwood Springs city sales tax through mid-year, including another 5.3 percent drop for June, is definitely not where city officials had hoped to be with six months remaining in the year.

“That’s not quite where we thought we would be at this point,” Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel said. “It’s definitely off from where we had budgeted.”

But, recognizing the trending decline in sales tax revenues, which make up about half of the city’s general fund budget, the city has also implemented a number of measures to control spending, he said.

“The result is that our expenditures are less than anticipated through that same period,” Hecksel said.

Among the cost-saving measures the city has implemented even before the mid-year numbers came in was an offer to some full-time city employees to drop to 32 hours a week.

“That does reduce some of our cost, but it allows them to keep their benefits,” Hecksel said.

The Glenwood Springs Community Center was also closed this year on legal city holidays, which hasn’t been the case in past years, he said.

“Those were some of the things we came up with in the short term,” Hecksel said. “Our department heads have also done a good job in terms of administering their budgets.”

June typically signals the start of the summer tourist season in Glenwood, including the Strawberry Days festival weekend.

Sales tax figures released this week show the city brought in $1,224,000 for the month, compared to $1,293,509 for June 2009.

The percent decrease for the year has ranged from a high of 9.4 percent in January to a low of 2.4 percent in March.

“We really thought we’d see it at zero by now,” Hecksel said.

To date, the city has collected a little more than $6 million in sales taxes, about 6.6 percent off last year’s pace. Sales tax revenues came in at a little more than $13.5 million in 2009, down from $16.4 million in 2008.

“The six-month figures are really important, because it gives us an indication of how we want to forecast for 2011 and 2012,” Hecksel said. “Most of our forecasting for this year was done a year ago, and we were making assumptions based on what was going on nationally and that there would be a lag effect locally in the economic downturn.”

City sales taxes are down in every major category year-to-date, including: 11 percent in transportation/utilities; 11.8 percent in building materials/supplies; 4.6 percent in general merchandise; 7.4 percent in food store sales; 14.5 percent in automobile sales and service; 5.8 percent in furniture sales; 9 percent in eating/drinking establishments; 4.9 percent in miscellaneous retail; and 6.7 percent in the motel/hotel category.