Sales-tax receipts received in October and November  indicate a rise from the same period during the last two years, and officials are attributing those increases, at least partly, to Rolla’s hosting of a finish of the Tour of Missouri.


Sales-tax receipts received in October and November  indicate a rise from the same period during the last two years, and officials are attributing those increases, at least partly, to Rolla’s hosting of a finish of the Tour of Missouri.
Rolla hosted the Stage Four finish on Sept. 11. Stage Five began the next day in St. James.
Rolla’s sales-tax receipts in October totaled $322,623, or about $16,000 more than that of the previous year. However, the November receipts revealed a spike of $76,399.
“I’m a little reluctant to say this can be directly attributed to one specific event,” City Administrator John Butz said Monday. “Much of it depends on the reporting time. Some businesses report sales-tax figures quarterly and others report monthly, but the figures clearly indicate a boost.”
The city ended Fiscal Year 2008 on Sept. 30 with its sales-tax figures down 1.78 percent as compared to the 2007 numbers.
However, in the nearly three months of the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1, Rolla’s sales-tax figures are up 2.27 percent from the ’08 numbers, and in an economy that appears headed toward recession, those numbers are encouraging, Butz said.
“There may be a couple of factors going on here,” Butz said. “Fuel costs are down and people have more (discretionary) income, and that is helping. And the (sales tax) reporting may be leveling out. For example, Wal-Mart may be going from a quarterly reporting cycle to a monthly.”
Butz explained in previous years, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, was reporting its sales tax quarterly, which led to receipts one month of $150,000-plus and then the third month it would be over $450,000-plus.
Even though the two-month reporting period indicates a boost in sales-tax revenues over the previous year to the tune of $92,323, Butz indicated there may be other factors coming into play.
“Generally, it may take 30 to 60 or even 90 days for something to show. We have no idea of whether these businesses have changed their reporting. We just get a check from the state,” he said.
Still, the benefits from hosting the Tour of Missouri, Butz said go beyond the dollar figures, one reason, he said, the city has elected to submit another host city bid for 2009.
An estimated 12,000 people attended the event, many of whom came from out of town. Also, while nearly 200 hotel rooms were taken up by athletes and their crews, nearly every hotel room was booked. An indication of this was hotel tax remittance was up 42 percent for September.
“To show the state and the world that Rolla is capable of pulling this sort of thing off bodes well for us,” Butz said. “There are other cities that are talking of backing away from a proposal,” Butz said.
“Are we ready to sign on for the Tour of Missouri for another 10 years? Certainly not, but I think the success here and our people have indicated to me that they’d like to see us do it a second year,” Butz said.
Rolla submitted its proposal to host another segment of the race on Dec. 5. Another city, Columbia, which also submitted a proposal is at least questioning whether it can afford to host a stage.
According to a report in the Columbia daily newspaper, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Lorah Steiner “isn’t so sure the community can afford to host the end of a race.”
Steiner places a contingency that Columbia be considered only if it can raise the funds and sponsors. She contends her community may have to consider a start, which costs $20,000 instead of a finish that costs at least $60,000.
Columbia is not alone in becoming cool to its involvement in cycling. Also, the Tour of Georgia, the granddaddy of cycling races in the U.S., has indicated it will not hold a 2009 race because of poor economic conditions.
However, at least in Rolla, there is considerable interest in an encore performance of the Tour of Missouri.
“We talked to our sponsors right after the race, and they have indicated to me that they were pleased and are interested in pursuing another stage,” said Scott Caron, the director of The Centre and Chairman of the Tour of Missouri Local Organizing Committee.
The Rolla effort for the 2008 Tour of Missouri cost $45,143.52, of which there were $42,000 in sponsorships and another $3,390.75 was raised in merchandise sales. Caron’s final report to City Council members indicated the effort ended with a balance of $247.23.
 Caron thanked every sponsor but specifically mentioned Dr. Terry Brewer of Brewer Science for his efforts and financial backing.
“Without the sponsors and people like Dr. Brewer and Brewer Science, we could not have pulled this off,” Caron said. “He’s been a big sponsor of the arts in Rolla and in the Tour of Missouri. Certainly, we are thankful for that.
“I talked to him immediately afterward, and he was pleased. We agreed that I’d get with (Brewer publicist) Loretta Wallis and see what we could do for next year.”
Other Tour significant sponsors include Phelps County Regional Medical Center, Phelps County Bank, Missouri Realtors, Electrical Cooperatives and Chartwells.
City officials will learn the last week of January whether Rolla will be a player once again in the race, which is scheduled for Sept. 7 to 13.
“We submitted our bid packet, and we said we’d like a similar Stage. However, we were not specific as to a finish or a start,” Caron said. “We know the riders talked about what great stage we had in Rolla and that’s nice to hear. We’d just like to be involved again.”