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11/8/2019
Upward

Gauging the current state of Ketchikan’s economy can be a difficult exercise, given the range of industries, enterprises and revenue streams involved.

Most residents know how their personal finances and sources of income are doing. Many locals have a sense, based on various information and impressions, of the broader economy and how it’s likely to perform in the immediate future.

Actual data can help fill some of the blanks. One such helpful data snippet is the amount of sales taxes collected. The City of Ketchikan has issued its seventh sales tax report of 2019, which contains the overall amounts of sales tax revenue by quarter for the current year — and the trend is positive.

Before we go further here, it’s important to avoid reading too much into this type of overall revenue data. It doesn’t include details for revenues collected by category, which provides a clearer picture of how the different sectors that remit sales taxes are performing. One sector performing fabulously can mask problems being experienced by others.

That said, the city’s overall sales tax revenues have been climbing since a slight pause in 2016, and appear to be on pace for another rise this year.

 The Oct. 26 report by city Finance Director Bob Newell showed sales tax revenues of about $8.07 million, up from about $7.72 million at the same time in 2018.

Local sales tax revenues ramp up in the second and third quarters, in large part because of the visitor season. The city’s second-quarter sales tax revenues rose from $3.99 million in 2018 to about $4.15 million this year.

Third quarter figures are not yet available.

“If the third quarter comes in as strong, then the city will set a new record in sales tax collections,” Newell wrote in the report.

The city has projected total sales tax revenues for the year at approximately $12.7 million. In 2016, the city saw about $11.35 million.

We’re looking forward to seeing the full-year results. Understanding that sales tax data is but one part of Ketchikan’s economic story, it’s good to know the trend has continued upward.