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Is Decorah's economy improving—despite the coronavirus?

Posted: Wed, Jan 6, 2021 3:30 PM

The latest figures for tax collections in the City of Decorah are a sign the town might not be suffering financially from the coronavirus epidemic.

The "Local Option Sales Tax" adds a one cent tax to the state sales tax, with the money collected being sent back to Decorah.  City Clerk/Treasurer Wanda Hemesath says the total money collected in fiscal year 2019 for the local option sales tax (LOST) was $1,057,406.  For fiscal year 2020, that figure went up, not down, totaling $1,074,793—a 1.6 percent increase.

Now the State of Iowa is estimating that the City of Decorah will receive $1,221,470 in LOST receipts for fiscal year 2021.  That would make it a 13.6 percent increase.  In fact, a "reconciliation check," an adjustment made by the state, has already arrived in the amount of $200,389—more than $118,000 higher than fiscal year 2020's reconciliation check.

While sales tax receipts are going up for the City of Decorah, the city has been receiving less money through the Hotel/Motel Tax, which could be a sign that Decorah's tourism industry has been suffering during the pandemic.  The latest payment by the State of Iowa for those tax receipts was $139,910, which was down 27 percent from the same period one year earlier.