Archive for Saturday, May 31, 2008

Benefits reaped from KU title run

Sales tax collections up 9 percent

The city of Lawrence appears to be reaping another benefit from KU basketball's National Championship run.

May 31, 2008


Self-made Champions

The Lawrence Journal-World looks back at the men's basketball season of 2007-2008, in which the Jayhawks claimed the NCAA championship title for the first time in 20 years and its third ever.

You may not have worked it off yet, but those series of March Madness celebrations are beginning to pay off for the city's coffers.

Sales tax collections for the late March and early April period - the heart of the Jayhawk's National Championship run - were more than $160,000 higher, or about 9 percent greater, than they were a year ago, city leaders recently learned.

How much of that boost is directly attributable to the mass quantities of T-shirts, snacks, beverages and other party supplies isn't known, but leaders said there's no doubt the celebration added to the city's finances.

"It's definitely more than it would have been otherwise," said Ed Mullins, the city's director of finance who oversees the sales tax figures.

Bar and restaurant owners in the city are happy to take credit for some of the increased business. Doug Holiday, owner of Bigg's BBQ, said his south Lawrence restaurant had record-setting sales during the tournament.

"Our sales were over last year's total by a lot," Holiday said. "And the best news is: I think it is going to carry over through the summer. I think all this sports success has really put us on the map. I think there are people who want to come back and check out Lawrence again."

An even clearer sign of how much the National Championship celebrations added to the city's economy may come next month. That's when the city is expected to receive its drink tax check, which is the city's share of taxes collected on alcohol sold at bars and restaurants.

For the time being, though, the sales tax collections are enough to keep city leaders smiling. The most recent sales tax check continues a surprisingly strong year for the city's sales tax collections. For the first five reporting periods of the year, the city's collections are up $524,000 - or 5.9 percent - compared to the same period a year ago.

Questions remain, though, about whether such growth will continue.

"I still think it will be difficult to maintain that type of increase with the pressure that is being put on consumers," Mullins said.

Mullins said he continues to be concerned about how consumers will react to rising fuel prices and a weakening real estate market that has nearly ended the trend of using home equity to make purchases. Mullins said recent news about auto manufacturers reducing their outlook for sales also could be bad news for sales tax collections.

"I always say you have to buy a lot of T-shirts to make up for one less vehicle being sold," Mullins said.

But some retailers are holding out hope. Holiday said he thinks Lawrence entertainment-oriented businesses may see larger sales as the result of the economic slowdown. He said people may be less willing to travel, which means they may spend more of their entertainment dollars locally.

"Maybe they'll go to Clinton Lake instead of the Lake of the Ozarks or something like that," Holiday said. "I think they'll still do something. You can't just go hide under a rock. You've still got to have some fun."


deskboy04 10 years ago

Are the downtown merchants still mad about the football game at Arrowhead? I've already got my tickets...

BigPrune 10 years ago

Next thing you know, someone will be proposing an "ET Commission" to deal with the possibility of alien visitors from another world. Where is Merrill and why hasn't he or bozo proposed such a commission? Oh, they'll need their people back in power.I'd do a cut and paste that tells all about a proposed initiative in Colorado - that's where Boulder is, isn't it? -but I don't want to take up a whole page. It is for Denver, based on an ET puppet in Nebraska. Expect initiatives in Boulder, Lawrence and Berkley.......IT IS COMING...............

MIke Mallory 10 years ago

why hasnt plumberscrack posted something negative yet. seems that is all he is good for. i am sure he has something negative to say about the increased revenue.

Noweigh 10 years ago

Finally a positive story about the impact of KU's athletic success on the entire town. Wonder if the same story is running in Boulder, Waco, Stillwater, Columbia, Norman, Manhattan, Austin, Ames, Lubbock, College Station or Lincoln? Hardly.There are 11 other towns that would trade places with us(and our athletic program) in a heartbeat.

Boston_Corbett 10 years ago

So fix some more potholes. God knows we have a city full of them right now.

Evan Ridenour 10 years ago

"thoughtpolice (Anonymous) says:It's about time the community received some benefit from KU's presence. My favorite time of year is when the students are gone."Are you joking? Lawrence would be another Eudora or Perry if it wasn't for KU being located here. The economic benefit of a large research university being located in a town is gigantic... get a clue...

down_the_river 10 years ago

There could be another story here, as well. Though the report from the Dept of Revenue lists a 9 percent increase for the recent month, the previous month shows an 8.1 percent decrease. Revenue has a hard time keeping some of these numbers and dates straight. Over a longer time frame, (10 months of the fiscal year) sales tax collections in Lawrence are up 3.4 percent, which is lower than the statewide average, and lower than the rate of inflation, especially food, which is a major component of our sales tax.

thoughtpolice 10 years ago

It's about time the community received some benefit from KU's presence. My favorite time of year is when the students are gone.

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