Possible signs of better times

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By Greg Romberg

While there is nothing scientific about it, I’ve been thinking that the number of empty seats at Major League Baseball games this year suggests our economy is rebounding faster than most of the rest of the country. Our very mediocre Rockies draw big crowds while it seems like a lot of empty seats are watching better teams that have the misfortune of being located in areas with terrible economic stress.
The good news is that there seems to be empirical data that my empty-seat theory is reflective of a real upturn in our economy.  The Colorado Municipal League reported last week that the vast majority of municipalities in Colorado saw an increase in sales tax revenues for the first six months of 2011 when compared to the same period in 2010.
According to the CML survey, which was based upon responses from 63 municipalities of varying size from across the state, 81 percent of Colorado municipalities collected more sales tax from January to June than they had last year. Some 6.5 percent of municipalities had flat revenues, and 12.5 percent saw reductions. The results showed a dramatic turnaround from the last six months of 2010, when only a third of Colorado municipalities had increases from the previous year. If revenues continue to increase, we may be on our way to exiting the recession.
Our economic recovery, both here and around the country, has been much more sluggish than most economists had predicted and than we’ve all wanted. Increased sales tax revenues are a great indicator, as they seem to suggest an increase in both consumer confidence and spending and more activity in our tourism-based economy. We can hope that increased sales tax revenues in the first half of 2011 are the sign we’ve been waiting for that our economy is ready to get back on track.
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This weekend marks the beginning of Arts Alive Evergreen, a two-week celebration of the arts by a variety of arts organizations including Center for the Arts Evergreen, Art for the Mountain Community, Artists with Altitude, the Evergreen Chorale, the Evergreen Children’s Chorale, Galleries of Evergreen, the Evergreen Jazz Festival, the Evergreen Players, the Hiwan Homestead Museum, Open Door Studios and the Colorado Children’s Theatre.
We’re blessed to have such a thriving arts scene in our community. Take advantage of all kinds of performances and activities. Details of all the events and activities can be found on the Internt at www.artsalive

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.