Sales tax figures reflect sluggish area growth

Craig's collected sales tax revenues peaked for the year in August, with lucrative hunting months on the way.

But local officials said a sluggish national economy and hesitant consumer sentiments are reflected in slightly lower sales tax collection, shown in a year-to-year comparison, through that same month, according to data from the Colorado Department of Revenue.

"It's not unanticipated and it's on line with what we've budgeted," said Jim Ferree, Craig city manager. "We did not expect to receive anymore than in 2001."

Craig collected $2,325,159 in sales tax last year.

State records show Craig had collected $1,489,599 through August, compared to $1,507,471 through the first eight months of 2001. The figures do not include sales tax distributed to the city from Moffat County.

"I think it's just a reflection of the economic picture everywhere," he said.

"It could be worse," said the administrator, pointing to various Front Range communities with sales tax receipts off anywhere from five to eight percent from 2001's pace.

Ferree, pointing to the flat revenues, said an unofficial hiring freeze remains in place with the city, and departments have been asked to hold the line on operating budgets. This, as employee health care costs rise nationally, along with higher inflationary costs for various materials and supplies.

"We might not be able to do as much street overlay work, replacement of water lines or park improvements," he said.

September data for Craig has yet to be processed, according to the Department of Revenue.

The city collected $208,647 for August, up more than $3,000 from the year's previous best month in July.

Both of those summer months are up between $11,000 and $8,000 over the same period recorded last year. The causes of which are hard to

pin down, and actually may not reflect a faint increase in activity, Ferree said.

"They could be some late payments from previous quarters," he said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com

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