Carbondale June sales up, first increase since October 2008

John Stroud
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The month of June brought the first increase in sales taxes for the town of Carbondale since the national economy took a nose dive in late 2008.

According to assistant town manager and finance director Nancy Barnett, June sales were up 1.9 percent compared to June of 2009.

It was the first recorded year-to-year increase in sales tax revenues for the town since October 2008, she said.

“Things pretty much fell off from then on,” she said of monthly sales tax losses that approached 20 percent during 2009. Sales taxes account for about 60 percent of Carbondale’s general fund budget revenues.

But, after continued double-digit decreases through the first part of the year, things began to stabilize in March, according to Barnett.

“We were only down single digits for the last four reports of this year,” she said.

Through mid-year, though, retail sales are still running about 8.7 percent down compared to the first six months of 2009, Barnett said.

The town ended the year last year about 16 percent down compared to 2008, and based this year’s budget on another 5 percent drop.

“We’re still calculating that it’s going to be down for the year, and we still may not make budget,” Barnett said.

As for the jump in June sales taxes, “I can’t really attribute it to any one thing,” she said. However, the month does signal the start to the summer event season, including the annual Music and Lobster Fest and the Valley Cruisers Car Show, which draw a fair number of people to Carbondale.

“We’re hopeful the trend will continue into July,” she said, adding those numbers won’t be available until early September.

A complete mid-year financial report is expected to be completed by next week, Barnett said.

“We’ll use that to start preparing our budget work sheets for next year,” she said.

Last year, the town was forced to make a number of budget cuts as a result of the drop in revenues, including laying off four employees, wage cuts and reduced services.