With sales tax revenue down 10 percent, Basalt riding on summer | AspenTimes.com

With sales tax revenue down 10 percent, Basalt riding on summer

BASALT – Basalt’s sales tax revenues were down 10 percent for the first half of the town’s fiscal year, but officials hope for a boost from a home-grown mini-stimulus package and a busy summer season.

The town collected $1.65 million in sales tax revenues from December through May this year, compared to $1.83 million last year, according to a report from town finance director Judi Tippetts.

She noted that the statistics don’t reflect the stimulus package the town launched in June. The town government and chamber of commerce teamed to throw a pig roast for the public along with a promotion to business at Basalt stores and restaurants. Consumers get a $30 gift certificate for each $300 in purchases at participating businesses. The certificates are redeemed at Basalt stores and restaurants.

The town is investing public funds to reimburse businesses for the $30 gift certificates. Council members said they believe it is an effective way to use funds to benefit the town.

The typically busy summer season may also spur a resurgence in sales tax revenues. The town’s busiest season is summer because of fishing, golf and tourism.

The first half of the fiscal year was rough on the major sectors of Basalt’s economy. Retail food sales, which account for the largest individual portion of sales tax revenues, were down 1 percent. That category includes City Market. Retail food establishments collected $730,533 in sales tax revenues through May, compared to $737,848 over the same period last year.

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General retail establishments are down 32 percent for the year to date. Sales tax revenues plummeted from $331,548 last year to $226,551. Town Center Booksellers closed in the spring, eliminating one big revenue producer.

Sales by restaurants with bars were down 13.5 percent through May. Sales of building materials are down 38 percent. Sporting retail sales are down 7.5 percent.

Basalt’s trend of falling sales isn’t unique in the Roaring Fork Valley this year. All towns in the valley have experienced a double-digit drop this year. Aspen’s sales tax revenues are down 19 percent year-to-date.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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