The city of Ketchum suffered about a 4 percent decrease in local-option-sales-tax revenues in October compared to revenues in October 2012, a downturn that Mayor Randy Hall said can in part be attributed to the Beaver Creek Fire.
The October tax report reflects taxes collected in Ketchum in the month of September. The Beaver Creek Fire started in August and was controlled in early September. Although the report does not reflect the worst of the fire, Hall said local businesses still felt the effects of the fire well after it was extinguished.
“Once we had to put Ketchum on pre-evacuation notice, everyone left town and the second-home owners never came back,” Hall said. “It was kind of a nightmare all the way around.”
The biggest decrease in tax receipts came from building materials, which fell from $25,779 in October 2012 to $21,682 last month, a sharp 15.89 percent decrease. The next most substantial drop was the 6.62 percent decrease in lodging receipts, from $7,485 to $6,989.
Tax receipts decreased across the board compared to last year, with the exception of liquor sales. Hall said he was not surprised with the 4.83 percent increase in by-the-drink liquor sales, from $15,717 last year to $16,477 this year.
“In my experience, whenever we have a disaster or have something bad happen, liquor sales always go up,” Hall said. “If people are miserable, at least they’re drinking.”
Despite the decreases, Hall said he is excited to see Ketchum’s economy grow.
“Our economy is definitely getting better,” Hall said. “We did have a bad last six weeks, but it seems sales are now starting to level off. The fire was devastating on a lot of levels, and the sales tax figures reflect that.”
Hall also said he is confident local businesses will continue to contribute taxes due.
“We definitely have confidence that everyone will pay their fair share,” Hall said. “We also have a lot of confidence about our economy in the next couple of years. Now, we can put this behind us, but the numbers help put into perspective how difficult it is for small businesses to make a living in this town.”
Eric Avissar: firstname.lastname@example.org