Sales tax on the rise

Ride the Rockies, oil and gas behind 24 percent June increase

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— The city of Craig notched significant gains in sales tax revenue in recent months, a trend local officials credit to increased shopping, hotel lodging and a one-day June visit by the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour.

Compared to the same time period last year, the city's sales tax revenue has increased by at least 17 percent each month from April to June, according to municipal figures.

The city has shown sales tax increases in four consecutive months, and five of the past six months overall, the figures reveal.

"It's a combination (of things)," Craig city manager Jim Ferree said. "We're getting a lot of oil and gas activity with workers coming in. :And Ride the Rockies was definitely a boost to the local economy."

The high water mark for the city's sales tax came two months ago, in June, when the city earned $315,485, a 24 percent increase against the $254,257 earned in June 2006.

This summer's Ride the Rockies visit, the first for Craig since 1995, played a part in June's numbers.

Organizers said the city could expect the tour visit, which brought 2,000 to 3,000 people to town, to equate to about a $200,000 boost to local businesses.

While those numbers are difficult to confirm, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director Christina Currie said the tour visit lived up to its billing as a financial catalyst.

"Absolutely," Currie said, "and I think we'll get a lot of repeat business because of it."

The city's sales tax rate is 2.25 percent. The county sales tax rate is 2 percent, of which 37.5 percent is shared with the city.

The county's sales tax allocations to the city have increased each month for the past six months; the two highest increases came in April (about 28 percent) and June (26 percent).

"Their sales tax is increasing just like ours," Ferree said.

City finance director Bruce Nelson said lodging at local hotels and motels contributes to the sales tax figures. He said he's noticed a trend of local lodging increasing, bolstering the sales tax revenue.

He said the increases in lodging and sales taxes are evidence that "this whole area is growing and expanding."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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