Quarterly sales tax revenue jumps up in Langley

Taxable retail sales in Langley went up in the first three months of the year by about the same amount as the rest of the state’s went down, according to figures released last week by the state Department of Revenue.

It appears this seaside village can really buck a trend, and turn a buck.

Taxable retail sales in the city of 1,100 went up in the first three months of the year by about the same amount as the rest of the state’s went down, according to figures released last week by the state Department of Revenue.

Langley showed taxable retail sales of $7,618,306, a 12.87-percent increase over the $6,749,429 listed for the first quarter of 2008, the department said.

Statewide, taxable retail sales declined 12.8 percent to $23.2 billion during the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008.

“We’re pleased and surprised,” said Langley City Councilman Robert Gilman, who has been tracking the economic pulse of the city with chart and graphs. “I’m not sure it will last, but so far it’s been pretty good.”

Island County’s other cities also fared better than the state. Coupeville’s taxable retail sales dropped 4.25 percent to $7,672,743. Oak Harbor’s actually increased 1.53 percent to $77,712,938, the report said.

Island County itself dropped 1.55 percent in the first quarter, from 179,786,873 in 2008 to $177,009,108 this year.

Taxable retail sales includes all retail trade, as well as other industries such as services, logging and construction.

For retail trade only, Langley also showed a first-quarter increase of 6.48 percent, $2,593,615 to last year’s $2,435,864. There was a statewide drop in the same category of 11.9 percent, to $10 billion.

Retail trade in Coupeville dropped 0.66 percent to $2,488,727, and dropped

5.75 percent in Oak Harbor to $39,078,650. Island County retail trade dropped 6.22 percent to $66,703,532 for the quarter, the report said.

“The mix in town is continually shifting,” Gilman said of Langley. “We have a lot of people whose businesses are doing well, but it’s not across the board.”

He said the city budgeted $303,000 in sales-tax revenue for this year, and if the record-setting pace of the first quarter continues, revenue could be as much as $341,000.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts going down,” Gilman said. “But we could be at least second highest of all the other years.”

He said the poor economy may actually be benefiting Langley by attracting Puget Sound visitors who might otherwise go farther from home.

For perspective, however, City Clerk-Treasurer Debbie Mahler said recently that while sales-tax revenue is up, hotel-motel-tax revenue is down.

“It shows people are visiting, but they’re not staying overnight,” Mahler told the city council at a recent meeting.

“Langley’s economy is much more diverse than people realize,” Gilman said, “and we’d be happy to have it even more diverse.

“Nobody’s the least bit complacent,” he added. “City government is definitely paying attention to what happens.”

Among the largest industries statewide, retail sales from construction dropped 20.4 percent for the first quarter to $4.3 billion; motor vehicles and parts dropped 23.3 percent to $2.1 billion; accommodations and food services dropped 5.1 percent to $2.4 billion; and general merchandise stores declined 0.9 percent to $1.5 billion, the revenue department report said.

The retail component of wholesale trade declined 18.3 percent to $1.8 billion,

miscellaneous retailers dropped 12.2 percent to $1.3 billion, information services dropped 0.7 percent to $1.2 billion, and building materials, garden equipment and supplies dropped 21.2 percent to $851 million, the department said.

More in Business

Habitat taking over Saratoga Community Housing

After witnessing Saratoga Community Housing’s declining effectiveness, Habitat for Humanity of Island… Continue reading

Celebrate everything rabbit-related during Bunny Daze, March 26-31

Spring has sprung, and so have the bunnies. Celebrate the furry creatures… Continue reading

Schools foundation holding Dine Out Wednesdays

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation is holding its March Dine Out Wednesdays… Continue reading

Langley chocolatier Mona Newbauer offers a wide variety of gourmet chocolates in her shop, Sweet Mona’s. Some of those chocolates will make their way to Coupeville Saturday for the annual Chocolate Walk. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times
Chocolate Walk tickets selling quickly

A handful of tickets remain available for Saturday’s Coupeville Chocolate Walk. For… Continue reading

Seed farm grows with online store | CORRECTED

The growth of Deep Harvest Farm has been measured and intentional. Owners… Continue reading

The Braeburn set to expand restaurant space in Langley

An expansion has been “long overdue” at The Braeburn, according to the… Continue reading

Whidbey Island Natural closes Langley storefront

After 17 years on First Street in Langley, Whidbey Island Natural is… Continue reading

Whidbey Coffee gets new facility, director

One of Whidbey Island’s homegrown businesses is getting a double shot of… Continue reading

Island Herb in Freeland donates half of Nov. 28 sales for Giving Tuesday

Island Herb owner Lucas Jushinski is donating green of a different kind… Continue reading

Whidbey Tire Auto set to close its doors after decades of service

After serving South Whidbey since 1980, Whidbey Tire & Auto owner Dana… Continue reading

Langley flower shop was inspired by ‘farm, forest and the sea’

By LORINDA KAY Special for The Record When you walk into the… Continue reading

Langley jewelry store takes inspiration from the sea

Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Alexa Allamano has always been fascinated by the… Continue reading