At the March 21 county meeting, Laura Graham, executive secretary for the Tourist Development Council, said the county’s bed tax yielded a $41,580 in revenue in December, a whopping 68 percent increased over the year before.
She said collections for the first quarter of the current fiscal year, from October to December 2016, which typically among the slowest months of en entire year, were up about 32 percent from last year.
December marked the first time in the history of the 2 percent bed tax that monthly revenues exceeded $40,000. October, which saw revenues of $95,107, a better than 26 percent increase from the year before, marked the first time that month’s revenues exceeded $80,000, which is the level typically seen in March.
In a telephone interview, TDC Executive Director Curt Blair said revenues during one month can be affected by factors like the deposit dates for lodging companies. He declined comment on the December spike in revenue.
“The fact that the whole quarter was up significantly from last year is not the result of posting of deposits,” he said. “I can’t say definitely but I think we’ll find that there was an actual increase of perhaps 15 percent. We will have to watch from quarter to quarter to better understand.”
He said that an annual increase of 7 to 8 percent is normal, and a 15 percent increase would be significant.
Blair said based on anecdotal information from lodging vendors and downtown businesses, he believed occupancy was up in the first quarter of this fiscal year. He also said more restaurants had remained open during the first part of December than in previous years.
In the past, many downtown dining establishments have closed for part of December to do deep cleaning or make large upgrades and repairs.
“The real sign of a significant change will be if the increase continues through the next quarter, which ends in March,” Blair said.