July sales tax numbers surprisingly low in Dillon | SummitDaily.com

July sales tax numbers surprisingly low in Dillon

CAITLIN ROW
summit daily news

DILLON – In terms of sales tax collection in Dillon, July was worse than June – 12.5 percent down versus 9.1 percent.

“It was a surprise,” said financial director Carri McDonnell. “We had anticipated that July would not be as down as June because we heard from businesses that July numbers were better.”

McDonnell added that it’s not normal for July numbers to be worse than June, but also noted that collection numbers were still missing a few minor vendors – “We’d have been down 10.5 instead of 12.5,” she said.

All sectors were down, McDonnell said. Lodging was down almost 10 percent, restaurants were down 6 percent and retail was down 9 percent.

“We’re still being cautious about projecting sales tax numbers for the rest of 2009 and 2010,” she said. “We’re projecting a 10-percent decline in all of 2009 and then we’ll use the 2009 number for 2010. We are projecting (that 2009 sales tax collection) will be at $3.761 million.”

McDonnell said staff and council is using that amount for all budget plans in 2009 and 2010 –  “If the revenues don’t come in and we’ve overestimated them, then we will be using reserves to pay for expenditures.”

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Though Dillon could just make budget cuts in 2010 if the economic climate worsens, staff and town council decided to instead create a conservative budget reflecting 2009 losses without any new growth.

“We feel like its more important to be conservative and plan ahead,” McDonnell said.

So, the 2010 town budget dropped operating expenses by 10 percent, she said. It implemented a wage freeze and a hiring freeze, and there were some minor cuts in event programming – like the elimination of end-of-summer fireworks over Labor Day weekend and a reduction in the Nature Nights program at the amphitheatre.

“We’ve reduced Nature Nights to three instead of four, and in its place we’ll have some low cost Thursday night programming,” McDonnell said. “We’re also going to do select Friday night concerts – all low cost, local bands so we can still bring people into town without spending a lot of money.”

According to McDonnell, the town also was able to reduce the forestry program – less trees will need to be removed in 2010 because beetle-killed pines have already been removed in bulk.

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.