Basalt’s economy already way ahead of 2020’s record pace |

Basalt’s economy already way ahead of 2020’s record pace

Councilman: Some people feel town already has plenty of vitality

Basalt is experiencing the kind of economic boom this summer that has spurred some people to ask if there is too much vitality.

Sales in July were up 24% compared with what was a very strong July 2020. The town government collected $888,767 in sales tax revenue for the month. That was a record for July and dwarfed pre-COVID numbers.

“Lodging is posting a 25% increase between years due to their recovery and growth above pre-COVID sales,” said a memo to the Basalt Town Council from town finance director Christine Chicoine. “Restaurants with bars are posting a gain of 38.4% between years, due to growth above pre-COVID sales.”

General retail sales are up nearly 47% from last year. The building sector also is up 47%.

On the surface, the only surprise from the August sales report — which reflects actual sales in July — was retail food dropping 4%. However, many people were eating more meals at home and going out less often last summer during the height of the pandemic. Chicoine noted in her report that grocery sales are still above pre-COVID levels even if they aren’t matching 2020.

Up for review

The Basalt Town Council will review two major projects at its meeting Tuesday.

The council will resume first-round review of the Basalt Center Circle proposal for 70 apartments and a European-style market by developers Tim Belinski and Andrew Light.

The council also will start review of developer Michael Lipkin’s plan to finish the Willits residential neighborhood with 155 residences, including 44 deed-restricted housing units.

The Basalt Center Circle project will be reviewed at about 6:35 p.m. and the Willits project is on the agenda for 8:10 p.m.

Basalt’s economy has been on a roll since recovering from the initial shock of the pandemic lockdown last spring. For the year-to-date through July, sales are up 18.7% in 2021 compared with last year’s previous record. The town has raked in $5.69 million in sales tax revenue so far this year compared with $4.8 million at the same point last year. Sales tax collections were at $4.19 million at the same point in 2019.

The state of the economy became the focus of a brief discussion at the Aug. 24 Basalt Town Council meeting while the board reviewed a proposed development at the old Clark’s Market site downtown.

Co-developer Tim Belinski said the proposed project — 70 apartments and a European-style market — would provide a spark to downtown’s economy.

Councilman Ryan Slack noted, “A lot of people are feeling we have all the vitality we need.”

Belinski replied, “That’s 100 days. What changes is downtown (currently) goes to sleep sometime around October 1.”

He suggested the project he is promoting with partner Andrew Light could bring year-round vitality by adding to the critical mass of people living downtown.

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