Verde Valley January sales tax report mostly positive

Retail tax revenue held steady or increased

VERDE VALLEY - Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Clarkdale all showed increases in retail sales tax revenue for January over the same month last year. Jerome was the only Verde Valley community to drop in retail sales tax for January, and that drop was less than $200.

Cottonwood's retail tax revenue climbed from $704,674 last year to $723,984 for this January. Camp Verde was up from $69,553 in 2011 to $79,692 for 2012. Clarkdale showed a modest gain in retail tax collections to $3,298 this year from $3,118 last year.

Tracie Schimikowski, president and CEO of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce, said the January sales tax report is actually for tax collected in December. "That would make sense," she said.

"It was the end of the year and it was holiday time," she said.

Schimikowski also said the chamber's visitor center had an increase in foot traffic. "We did have a slight increase in January for visitors to the visitor center."

The Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce saw a 6 percent increase for 2011 over 2010 in the number of visitors, according to Schimikowski. "For the fourth quarter, we actually saw a 25 percent increase," she said. "It was huge."

Schimikowski said that for spending in general and travel, it does look like things are improving.

Cottonwood also is seeing some signs of improvement. Lana Tolleson, president and CEO of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, said she knows business in Old Town is improving and Big Five opened near the end of the year. Those things may have combined to give Cottonwood a boost in retail sales tax revenue.

"I'm beginning to hear more business people saying they're busy, and business is picking up," Tolleson said.

She believes marketing efforts are paying off for Cottonwood businesses.

"The Tavern Hotel is doing marketing for the hotel and the Wine Trail," she said. "I know Eric (Jurisin) is getting a lot of business from that."

The Cottonwood Chamber is promoting local shopping Tolleson said. She points out that with gas prices as high as they are, people won't save any money by driving somewhere else to shop.

She said that in general people are saying that business is picking up.

"More and more retailers are saying things are looking up," she said.

In total sales tax revenue for January in all categories combined, Clarkdale and Jerome both had increases. Cottonwood and Camp Verde both lost ground for the month from last year.

But in the year-to-date category through January for all sales tax, Camp Verde was the only community to drop. Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Jerome all posted gains through the end of January 2012 compared with 2011.

The Office of Economic Research and Analysis of the Arizona Department of Revenue provides the monthly sales tax figures.

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