Basalt’s boom produces record sales-tax haul |

Basalt’s boom produces record sales-tax haul

The town of Basalt has collected record-breaking retail sales-tax revenues this year even without December’s haul.

Through November, the town had collected about $1.6 million in sales-tax revenues, according to a report by town Finance Director Renae Gustine. That’s about 20 percent more than the $1.33 million collected all of last year.

However, Gustine said this year’s figure is skewed by sales of two businesses. The inventory of those businesses was subject to the sales tax, so retail sales appeared more robust than they really were, she said.

Even without those two transactions, however, Basalt still experienced an impressive 14 percent gain in sales-tax revenues, according to Gustine. That’s significantly greater growth than either Aspen or Vail experienced in 1999, noted Basalt Town Manager Tom Baker.

It’s also more than Basalt anticipated. Basalt was counting on about $1.41 million in sales-tax revenues for the entire year. The conservative projection, Baker said, gave the town’s elected officials extra funds for a variety of special projects.

Like other municipal and county governments in the Roaring Fork Valley, Basalt heavily depends on sales-tax revenues. They comprise about 50 percent of the town’s annual budget, easily making them the single largest revenue source.

Basalt’s rapidly growing sales-tax revenues in the 1990s reflect the town’s growth through annexations and infill. The town sales tax produced $357,296 in revenues in 1992. It topped $1 million for the first time in 1997.

The El Jebel City Market, which was annexed in the mid-1990s, is one of the town’s leading sales-tax sources. Food stores alone raised almost $569,000 in 1998.

Sales-tax revenues could grow even more if the town grants final approval to about 450,000 square feet of commercial space proposed at the Willits subdivision.

But for the coming year, town officials aren’t projecting a big jump in revenues. Gustine said she was “real conservative” in the 2000 budget by planning on only a 6 percent increase in sales-tax revenues.

She expects Basalt to experience the same flattening out of growth in sales-tax revenues that Aspen and Vail have experienced. “We always lag behind,” Gustine noted.

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