Sep 12, 2012 8:35 PM by Jacqui Heinrich
New numbers from the city of Manitou Springs show summer sales tax revenue is way down, and experts in the 'biz' blame the Waldo Canyon fire.
Business owners felt the burn of the Waldo Canyon fire long after the flames died down. "It really impacted the business, the customers being afraid of everything being burned down," says Teri Major, who runs The Green Willow Motel. "We had a cancellation a month after the fire because they were afraid of what's not here to come and see."
Donna Carson, an employee at the gift shop Mushroom Monday, remembers a similar experience. "It was half of what [business] we'd normally do. People would come in and say 'Well, we thought the town burned down and whatever, don't go to Colorado', and that's just not the case." Business owners say out-of-state tourists watching national news outlets with repeat visuals of large flames got the wrong idea, and didn't realize attractions had reopened.
Sales tax numbers from June and July took a major hit, down more than 7% from last year. Rebecca Davis, Director of Finance for the City of Manitou Springs, told News 5, "All of our major areas are down: the amusement, bars, shops, stores which is little grocery stores and gas stations, motels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants."
The sales dip is bad news for business owners' wallets now and in the future; sales tax dollars go into maintaining the city, which reigns in tourists. Davis says, "Worst case scenario, maybe we'd close the pool a day or not take care of the parks the way we'd like to."
Some retailers still have hope with the Emma Coffin races coming up this October and the Christmas season still ahead. The ones that close after summertime say they won't be as fortunate. "Since were closed, it doesn't help us," Major says.
City finance officials are crossing their fingers, hoping for a bounce-back.