PATEROS While unemployment decreased to 8 percent in June in Okanogan County, there may be another local indicator of economic improvement: retail sales and hotel/motel tax revenues.
In Pateros, sales and use tax revenues have nearly doubled from July 2012 to last month, Clerk/Treasurer Kerri Wilson said.
At the end of July, the city had taken in about $8,110, over about $4,306 received at the same time last year. The seven-month total for 2013 is $38,870, while last year’s January-July figure is $32,379.
Wilson attributed it to fishermen.
“We’ve had a lot of people in town for the salmon, I know our parks have been busy,” she said during the Aug. 19 City Council meeting.
Revenues saw a jump in 2010 of about $28,400, totaling $85,463, which Wilson said was a result of the Lakeshore Inn being built. They dropped in 2011 to about $64,800, and last year the city collected $63,674.
Hotel/motel tax revenues are also up over last year by about $1,700 so far. The city took in a total of $36,000 last year, $31,218 in 2011 and $27,610 in 2010.
“We use hotel/motel funds for all the advertising of our two-day events,” Wilson said. “We also use it for maintaining our website, and a small portion goes toward paying partial salary to the visitors center/museum person, who is also our deputy clerk.”
Okanogan County as a whole saw its retail sales tax revenues nearly double as well over the past year.
As of July this year, the county has collected $1.06 million, compared to $668,000 through July 2012, $892,000 through July 2011 and $920,000 through July 2010.
County Treasurer Leah McCormack said she didn’t know what caused the revenues to nearly double, but “it is a good sign, though, it would appear.”
Overall, the county had a $5,000 dip in sales and use tax revenues last year, but is still up from 2010. The county collected $1.932 million in 2012, $1.937 million in 2011, and $1.88 million in 2010.
In Omak, city administrator Ralph Malone said revenues are “abnormally above what we would expect them to be on an ongoing basis.”
The reason for that, he said, is the ongoing sewer project. The contractors are “spending millions of our dollars putting pipe in the ground” and have to pay taxes on materials, to the tune of about $16,000.
“It would be a mistake to assume it’s going to continue after the project is done,” Malone said.
As of this month, the city has brought in about $964,581, as opposed to $922,592 by the same time last year.
Overall, Omak has seen growth every year over the past three years in retail sales tax revenues: $1.35 million in 2010, $1.44 million in 2011, and $1.48 million in 2012.
In hotel/motel tax revenues, Omak has received about $65,700 so far, out of a budgeted $135,000 for the entire year. The city budgeted for the same amount last year, but took in about $143,800. In 2011, Omak received about $139,500, and in 2010, $134,270.
Oroville has also experienced higher numbers in retail sales tax: $285,904 in 2010, $307,259 in 2011 and $314,756 in 2012. Through the end of July, the city was within about $250 of the same amount taken in by July of last year, Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Jones said.
Hotel/motel tax for Oroville took a dip last year, $20,443 down from $21,748 in 2011. However, 2011’s numbers skyrocketed from 2010, when the city brought in $6,288.
“The city assumed ownership of Lake Osoyoos Veterans Memorial Park (former state park) in 2010 and then annexed the property. That explains the tremendous increase in 2011,” Jones said.
At the end of July, Oroville was sitting at $5,244 for hotel/motel tax revenues.
Brewster saw a bump in its hotel/motel tax this summer because of six new slots at the city’s RV park, Clerk/Treasurer Misty Ruiz said. Seven full hookup slots were created before the busy camping season hit, but the seventh slot is for an RV park host position that wasn’t filled this year.
The city brought in $43,051 last year from RV space rentals, but the total as of Tuesday afternoon was already $41,788. That contributes to the $5,275 in hotel/motel tax revenues so far this year, compared to a total $9,962 collected in 2012.
“Brewster’s different because we do have an RV park that’s actually popular in the summertime,” Ruiz said.
The Apple Avenue Motel and its “steady” business is the only other entity to bring in hotel/motel tax funds, she said.
Overall, however, “We really haven’t seen change all that much” for tax revenues, Ruiz said.
In retail sales tax, the city has collected about 55 percent of its projected amount – $212,412. In 2012, the city collected $385,759 and in 2011, $338,916.
“We’re kind of staying the same, or worse,” Ruiz said, although some businesses last year said fishing season had helped them achieve record sales.
Washington state keeps online records of taxable retail sales for every county, city and town. In the first quarter of 2013, Okanogan County had nearly $101.4 million in taxable retail sales, up 6 percent from the same time last year.
State numbers also reveal retail sales were up the first quarter of this year as well in Okanogan, Omak, Pateros, Brewster, Conconully, Oroville, Riverside, and in unincorporated areas of the county.