Four Wyoming counties surrounding Yellowstone National Park received an economic boost from the forest fires that raged in and around the park last year, according to a state report issued Monday.
Although the park's tourist flow plummeted in August, September and October as the infernos charred thousands of acres, sales tax collections in Park, Teton, Sublette and Fremont counties showed an increase from a year earlier, said the report.The report said the increase in sales tax receipts is understandable in light of the visitors who were holed up in in the area and the thousands of firefighters brought in.
Prepared by the Department of Administration and Fiscal Control's Research and Statistics Division, the report stated that the four counties' sales tax collections jumped 4.94 percent in June, July, August and October from the year before.
Statewide, sales tax collections through the same period were up 6.78 percent, the report said.
Sublette County enjoyed the greatest increase among the four counties, with a 14.38 percent rise in sales tax collections, while Park County's jump was 8.71 percent above the previous year's collections, the DAFC report said.
Fremont County's sales tax collections increased 4.13 percent over the period, while Teton County's collections were up just 1.67 percent.
"The areas most affected were the retail and service related sectors," the report's authors said in analyzing the collections.
However, there were some unusual trends detected by the researchers. For instance, while the service sector in the four counties realized an 8 percent decline in business from the year before, the lodging component within that sector improved 24 percent.
Retail trade increased by nearly 6 percent, but the eating and drinking component within this sector rose just 2 percent, the report said.
In actual dollars, the four counties realized a 4.94 percent increase in sales tax collections, from $8.8 million during the period in 1987 to $9.2 million last year.