Carbondale sales up nearly 32%; 2022 budget reflects positive trend

Customers come and go at Sopris Liquor and Wine in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

A consumer shift to online purchasing during the pandemic helped to drive a big increase in retail sales for the town of Carbondale as it prepares to up town spending by $6.7 million for 2022.

Carbondale closed out the third quarter of 2021 riding a 31.8% increase in sales tax collections over 2020, according to the town’s latest sales tax figures.

Through nine months of the year, the town had already collected almost $4.9 million in sales taxes — well on the way to exceeding the $5.2 million in sales taxes generated for all of last year.

Much of that increase has been in the general retail category, where Carbondale and other municipalities in Colorado are now benefiting from sales tax collected for online purchases by town residents.

“Online sales being reported through the state portal continues to increase and capture revenue,” Interim Town Manager Kevin Schorzman and town Finance Director Renae Gustine noted in a Sept. 28 memo to the town’s Board of Trustees. “We are currently estimating a 30% increase over 2020 for the 2021 sales tax collections end-of-year revenues.”

Since that memo was written — based on numbers through August — sales across the board, from general retail to food, restaurants, liquor and marijuana purchases, have only continued to outperform 2020.

Through the end of September, general retail sales had brought in $1.4 million (compared to $823,297 through nine months of 2020); retail food sales generated $1.2 million (up from $940,189); restaurants and bars brought in $540,467 (up from $452,481); and liquor and marijuana sales generated $587,523 (up from $530,511).

A large chunk of those sales totals came during the third quarter alone, signaling a strong summer season for Carbondale.

2022 town budget under review

Despite the expected huge sales tax revenue increase to close out this year, the town is still basing next year’s budget on a 5% increase in sales taxes in 2022.

“We will continue to monitor and refine revenues and expenditures during the budget process,” Schorzman and Gustine advised in the September memo. Final budget approval is slated for Dec. 14.

Combining sales taxes with projected increases in other revenue sectors, Carbondale is in the process of reviewing a proposed $29.76 million 2022 budget — a marked increase over this year’s $23 million budget.

General fund spending under the proposed budget presented at the Oct. 12 trustees meeting would increase from a little over $7.9 million this year to about $8.95 million in 2022.

Capital projects also stand to see a sizable increase in spending, from $925,000 this year to about $2.5 million in 2022.

Many of the big-ticket capital improvements projects on the slate are geared toward transportation. Among them: implementation of the Eighth Street bike lane plan, at a cost of $500,000; initial paving of the town-owned parking lot at Fourth and Colorado, $275,000; and regular street maintenance, $215,000.

The town’s separate water utility fund is also looking at a boost in expenditures next year, from $1.8 million this year to $4.5 million in 2022.

Several even-bigger-ticket improvements and one major new amenity still loom on the horizon though not likely to be budgeted until 2023 at the soonest. They include a new town pool and bathhouse ($7 million to $8 million); a new roundabout at Colorado Highway 133 and Industry Place ($2.5 million); and extension of Industry Place to Eighth Street ($2 million).

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or