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Sales tax growth stunted in Steamboat’s cone zones

Scott Franz
Construction crews work Monday on Yampa Street in front of Aurum Food & Wine. Businesses in the cone zone have reported varying levels of impact from the road work.
Scott Franz

— A new sales tax report from the city of Steamboat Springs suggests the major Yampa Street and Central Park Drive construction projects kept some sales away from businesses that were stuck behind cone zones this summer.

But the impact from the noise, dust and barricades was not as great on the city’s sales tax coffers as city officials had feared.

The overall sales tax revenue collected from Central Park Plaza came in flat during April, May and June, despite the fact that overall collections in the city were up about 6 percent during the same period.

Finance Director Kim Weber said Monday the city received about $3,900 less in sales tax revenue from Central Park Plaza businesses than it did during the same three months last year.

That means the Central Park businesses, collectively, did about $97,500 less in sales during the months the road work was occurring, compared to the same months last year, when they were free of a cone zone.

Central Park Plaza posted 19.68 million in taxable sales in April, May and June.

On Yampa Street, overall sales tax collections rose 4.6 percent in May and June, despite the construction.

Collections were up 4.1 percent at Yampa Street businesses between Sixth and Eighth streets.

Weber acknowledged the sales tax data shows the businesses likely did not see the sales volume they would have had there been no construction.

But she added it could have been worse.

I’m pleasantly surprised that the sales tax impact hasn’t been as great as it was suspected it would be,” Weber said. “However, I understand there have been impacts to businesses, and I’m sympathetic with that.”

The targeted sales tax report from Weber gives the public its first glimpse into the impact of the construction, outside anecdotal reports from business owners, which have varied wildly.

On Yampa Street, some business owners — such as Pete Van De Carr, of Backdoor Sports — have been reporting record sales, despite the construction.

Others have reported the noise, dust and barricades have obliterated lunch sales and had other negative impacts.

The sales tax report doesn’t answer all the questions about the construction’s impact.

For example, it isn’t clear how much of the sales tax revenue lost at Central Park Plaza and Yampa Street was absorbed by the city at other businesses outside work areas.

It also doesn’t assign a cost to the two-week delay on the Central Park project that was caused by the city failing to secure the necessary easements for the road work.

The city did take steps to mitigate the impact of the road work on Yampa Street.

The aid included signage directing people around the cone zone to businesses on Yampa Street and a city-funded advertising campaign promoting Yampa Street businesses.

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


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