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Friday Harbor businesses are doing better than ... 2004

First, the good news: Friday Harbor merchants and innkeepers are doing better.

Now, the tough news: They are doing better than 2004.

The latest sales tax figures from the Town of Friday Harbor show receipts lagging behind 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005. In only one month, April, did we almost do as well as last year.

As of July 31, the town had received $430,762.15 year-to-date in sales tax revenue. The town receives its share of tax revenue two months after it is reported to the state, so the figures represent sales from November through May.

During the same period, the town received $515,773.39 in 2008, $527,049.11 in 2007, $493,412.12 in 2006, and $481,448.26 in 2005. The town received $430,235.45 during the same period in 2004.

All told, last year was the second-best year for business in Friday Harbor: A total of $1,027,207.41 received in all of 2008, behind the record-breaking $1,124,856.11 received in 2007. But at the current pace, 2009 won't finish third; the town's on track to match the $888,000 received in 2004.

December through February, we had our fifth-best winter season ever, if fifth-best means anything. In March and May, the town received $20,245 and $8,210 less than in the same months in 2008. April was kinder: The town received $59,765.16, about $3,800 less than the previous April.

Year-to-date, the town has received $28,819.73 in hotel-motel tax revenue and the same amount from a second hotel-motel tax — a total of $57,639.46. The town charges a 2 percent lodging tax to support tourism-related facilities, such as public restrooms. The town charges a second 2 percent lodging tax to support tourism promotion.

All told, the town received $137,146.84 from each lodging tax in 2008 — its second-best year ever, just behind the $140,322.66 collected in 2007. At the current pace, the town could break $100,000 in 2009.

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