Basalt finally receives a bit of good news on economy
BASALT – Basalt’s sales tax revenues fell again in February, but town officials celebrated kernels within the latest report which show the economy is slowly improving.
The overall sales tax collections for February were down almost 6 percent. But some types of businesses finally managed to post sales gains compared to the same month last year.
General retail sales – which reflect activity at a wide range of shops along Midland Avenue and in Willits – managed a 0.8 percent increase in sales in February compared to the same month last year. Restaurants with bars logged a 2 percent increase in sales.
That was the first increase in 13 months in either category, according to Town Manager Bill Kane.
“Main Street is alive and well in Basalt,” Kane said while unveiling the sales tax report at a Town Council meeting Tuesday night. He believed the gains, however modest, represent that the town has a “sustainable revenue stream.”
Despite the signs of recovery, overall sales tax revenues fell again in February because of the ongoing decline in business in the retail food category, dominated by City Market and Clark’s Market. Sales of retail food were down almost 8 percent for the month.
Sales of building materials plummeted 55 percent, reflecting the moribund condition of the construction industry.
For the first quarter of the town’s fiscal year – December through February – overall sales tax revenues were down nearly 9 percent. Every major category except sporting retail was down by double digits from the same period the prior year.
For the quarter, retail food sales sagged 9 percent. Building materials were off by 33 percent. General retail was down 2 percent, and restaurants with bars fell 17 percent.
Nevertheless, Kane said the February data suggests conditions are bottoming out.
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Andrew Huntsman and Ralph Smalley were chosen by the seniors to give the class address during Basalt High School’s graduation ceremony on Saturday. This had the two BHS teachers questioning the legitimacy of those diplomas they were about to hand out.