Basalt sales tax revenues up 15% in pandemic year |

Basalt sales tax revenues up 15% in pandemic year

Town government collected $1M more in revenues in 2020

Shops in Willits Town Center in Basalt bustled for a good share of 2020, including Basalt Bike and Ski and Bristlecone Mountain Sports. Sales by sporting goods retailers were cumulatively up 13.4%.

Basalt’s final sales tax report of 2020 reflects record-breaking revenue in what was a horrid year in many ways.

Sales tax revenue increased by $1.014 million or 15.1% in 2020 over 2019, according to the report by town finance director Christy Chicoine. It was released Tuesday.

The town reaped $7.73 million in sales tax revenue in 2020 compared with $6.72 million the year before. Basalt’s sales tax revenue has nearly doubled since $3.7 million was collected in 2011, the report showed.

Town manager Ryan Mahoney said the final result was not a surprise because the trend of rising sales tax revenue despite the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent earlier in the year. However, the result would not have been expected when the pandemic forced a shutdown of Roaring Fork Valley businesses in March.

“I would have been hard-pressed (to predict the outcome) because of so many unknowns at that time,” Mahoney said.

One big difference for the town and multiple other jurisdictions was a new state law requiring sales tax collections on online sales. Last year was the first full year it was in effect. Mahoney estimated online sales were responsible for between one-half and two-thirds of Basalt’s increase.

Sales tax revenue goes to the town’s general spending fund and to the parks, open space and trails fund.

Several but not all business sectors enjoyed a booming year. Retail food sales were up 8.7%, mostly powered by the town’s two large grocery stores. Basalt collected $2.54 million in sales tax revenue just from retail food sales.

Other big gainers during the pandemic year were building materials, up 52%; retail liquor and marijuana, up nearly 25%; general retail, up 29.5%; and sporting goods retail, up 13.4%.

Restaurants had an up-and-down year. Superb summer weather combined with expanded outdoor seating in public right-of-way benefited many businesses. But they also faced capacity limits when diners were forced indoors by cold weather.

Restaurants with bars were flat in 2020 compared with the prior year. Restaurants without bars were down nearly 16%.

The lodging industry also had an up-and-down year, ending with sales down nearly 9%.

The first report of 2021 shows Basalt remains on an economic roll. The January sales tax report shows sales were up 16.3% compared with the same month last year. The January report reflects actual sales in December, due to the lag in collections. So, the January report indicates businesses enjoyed a strong holiday period.


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