Pre-eclipse sales tax revenues slip | Town & County

Summer business is lagging slightly behind last year, economic statistics suggest. But the shortfall should be made up during the week of Aug. 21, when upward of 100,000 people are expected to descend upon Jackson to view the total solar eclipse.

“The first half of the market, more so than the second half, is down in numbers,” Anna Olson, the new president and CEO of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, said. “August numbers are going to be skewed enormously.”

For the months of May, June and July, lodging occupancy was down an average of 5 percent each month compared with last year.

As a result, according to the Wyoming Department of Revenue, sales tax income returned to Teton County from the state was down 22 percent for the month of June, which comes out to more than $1 million. Year-to-date, sales tax collections are down just 0.28 percent from last year.

The decline comes despite the fact that lodging tax income for May through July 2017 was up 9 percent compared to the same period in 2016 and up 22 percent compared to 2015.

Unemployment has also declined 0.3 percent as the national economy continues to thrive.

Part of the discrepancy may be explained by a 16 percent increase in average daily rate for a room — from $343 to $393 — collecting a larger portion of taxes despite hosting fewer people.

Olson noted that the increase in average daily rate does not seem to have scared people away or caused them to spend less on goods and services. This year has simply marked a return to normal following the busiest summer in Jackson history in 2016.

Compared with 2015, sales tax revenues for 2017 are up 6 percent. Though 2017 still lags slightly behind 2016, last year marked the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, which brought record numbers of visitors to the area from around the world.

Nevertheless, the eclipse…

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