City of Steamboat Springs poised to end 2014 with surpluses in sales and lodging tax revenue

Scott Franz

— The city of Steamboat Springs is on track to collect at least $1.5 million more in sales tax revenue and $150,000 more in lodging tax revenue than it budgeted to spend in 2014.

According to a preliminary tax report from the city, sales tax revenue in November was up 10 percent, or $112,238, over November 2013.

With only the busy month of December left to collect taxes from, the city’s sales tax revenue is currently 8.7 percent higher than it was at the same time last year.

“We’re very impressed by the November numbers,” Finance Director Kim Weber said. “We’re up in every category and every area.”

The excess sales tax revenue that wasn’t budgeted to be spent will go into the city’s reserves.

Lodging tax revenue is up 15 percent year-to-date.

Voters in 2013 approved spending $660,000 of the lodging tax revenue annually on local trails, Yampa Street improvements, the Haymaker Golf Course and the marketing of the amenities for a decade.

This year, the city is poised to collect more than $800,000 in lodging tax revenue as long as December sales tax collections end up higher than they were in 2013 as expected.

The excess revenue will leave the Steamboat Springs City Council with a potentially big decision to make in the coming years, especially if the lodging tax reserve continues to grow year after year.

The council has the discretion to spend the reserves however it pleases without going back to voters for approval as long as the money is spent in accordance with the 1986 ballot language that created the tax.

That means it must be spent on some sort of amenity aimed at attracting visitors to Steamboat.

The City Council briefly discussed the excess lodging tax money in October.

Council President Bart Kounovsky said there wasn’t currently a plan to spend the reserves, and he felt there shouldn’t be any urgency to spend it.

Council member Kenny Reisman said if there was a good idea for how to spend it in the future, the council would consider it.

In the short term, some of the reserves could be used to help purchase the Workman Property on Yampa Street this year. The reserves would then be replenished shortly after the purchase by the regular stream of lodging tax dedicated to the Yampa Street improvements.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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