Basalt’s latest sales tax report shows strong post-COVID economy
Town sales tax revenue was up 18% in 2021 over prior year
December was the cherry on top of a very good year for Basalt sales tax collections.
The town collected $850,326 in sales tax in December, which reflects actual sales in November. That was up 24.7% from the same month the year before.
For the entire fiscal year — reflecting sales from December 2020 through November 2021 — the town’s sales tax collections were up 18%. Basalt collected $9.07 million last year compared to $7.68 million in 2020.
The figures are preliminary at this time in case late taxes are paid.
The latest sales tax report shows the strength of Basalt’s COVID recovery. The town’s retail sales blew by pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, total retail sales tax collections were $6.72 million or about 25% below this year’s amount.
The lodging industry was up 38% in 2021. Restaurants with bars were up 33.4%.
“Due to strong sales in the lodging and restaurant industries, those sectors are now showing gains from the prior year and are tracking above pre-COVID sales,” said a report by Christy Chicoine, town finance director.
General retail sales were up 24.5% while sporting goods retail soared 26.2%.
Sales of building materials were up 46.4%.
As people got more comfortable with COVID they started dining out more often and eating and drinking less at home. Liquor stores showed only a 0.9% increase in sales in 2021 while sales by grocery stores and other retail food outlets were down 3.8%. Grocery sales remained the single biggest sector of Basalt’s economy. Retail food sales accounted for $2.45 million in 2021. General retail, which includes tax on online purchases, was a close second at $2.19 million.
The town collects sales taxes for its general fund and for its parks, open space and trails funds.
“The initial projection for General Fund sales tax for 2021 was $6,199,235,” Chicoine’s report said. “Draft actual General Fund sales tax is $6,416,658, which is $217,423 above the 2021 projection.”
Sales tax revenue for the open space fund was $31,517 below projections. The open space fund doesn’t receive sales tax revenue from sales of marijuana and other items, accounting for the differences, Chicoine’s report said.
Retail activity cooled in December, which was the start of the new fiscal year, according to the January sales tax report. Sales tax collections were up 1.6%. The town has budgeted 2.14% in sales tax revenue for 2022.
The remodel of Limelight Hotel Aspen took about six months to complete, but settling more than $3.4 million in overdue debts related to the project has taken twice the time so far.