Summer events keep city’s general fund healthy

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August – the month of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race – proved to be a good month for spending in Colorado Springs.

People came and spent money in restaurants and hotels, both sectors that had the largest increases in tax collections this August over last August.

Restaurants collected $1.6 million in sales taxes, a 5.3 percent increase above last August; while, the Lodger’s and Auto Rental Tax collected $511,611 in taxes, an 11.8 percent increase over last August.

It’s good news for the overall sales-and-use taxes collections, which represent more than 50 percent of the city’s general fund and covers expenses for police, fire, street repair and park maintenance, said Lisa Bigalow, Colorado Springs budget manager.

Overall, the city has projected a 2.5 percent increase in sales and use tax collections this year over last year. This summer’s events including the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, the Rocky Mountain State Games and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge bike race were key events in July and August that brought visitors to town.

It’s tough to say how much the events individually contributed, but Bigalow said a close look at the retail industry by sector shows that hotel and motels, retail and restaurants – all areas related to special events – were up.

“These types of events are positive economic drivers for us,” Bigalow said.

LART receipts for 2011 are expected to be $3.9 million compared to $4.2 million collected in 2007, which was considered a peak year. That’s holding, Bigalow said. But, overall, tax collections, so far, are up slightly higher than projected.

“It’s definitely positive,” she said.