BERTHOUD — Two small shops have closed in Berthoud in the past year.
And if sales don’t go up soon, “I foresee myself doing that,” said Kelly Jorgenson, owner of Berthoud Florist.
She’s not alone in her financial worries. The town has hit a sales tax crunch in the past three years, with revenue falling 17 percent, 3 percent and 1 percent in 2002, 2003 and 2004, respectively.
“If you don’t support businesses in your community, they won’t stay,” Jorgenson said. “Then you don’t have the option of staying in your community to shop.”
Beginning in 2002, Berthoud’s sales tax revenue dropped by about $157,000, or 17 percent, from the income in 2001. In 2003, sales tax revenue fell by almost $23,000, and in 2004, revenue dipped again by almost $5,000.
Berthoud’s 3 percent sales tax is the town’s largest revenue stream for the general fund. In 2004, it accounted for about 35 percent. The next-largest revenue pool was general property taxes, which made up about 12 percent of the town’s general-fund revenues.
The general fund provides basic services such as administration, police and recreation.
Mary Cowdin, Berthoud’s town clerk, said the 17 percent revenue drop in 2002 was an unusual occurrence caused by a lot of large-item sales in town the year before.
A lot of other places around the state have seen declines in sales tax revenue recently, said town administrator Jim White. The town is working on a retail-market analysis, which will pinpoint where the sales tax revenue is leaking to and should help the town improve services, he said. The analysis should be finished by the end of March, White said.
But not all businesses in Berthoud have hit a slump.
Jenny Burgess, who has co-owned Log Cabin Liquors for the past three years, said sales have stayed the same or increased during those years.
“We’re slow during our slow times and busy during our normally busy times,” she said.
Until she became a business owner, she didn’t realize how much the community benefits when people shop locally.
“If you live in Berthoud, you should shop in Berthoud,” she said. “We try to keep our dollars here.”
Another problem is that people shop where they work, the owner of Berthoud Florist said.
“In what we’re doing to save time,” Jorgenson said, “I think we’re becoming lazy.”
She said she has a strong and loyal group of local clients. But Berthoud customers make up only a quarter to a third of her business, she said.