First-half sales tax collections up 9.6% in Basalt
TALE OF THE TAPE
Basalt first-half sales tax collections
Business is booming for some establishments in Basalt.
Sales tax collections for the first half of 2015 were up 9.59 percent over the first half of 2014, according to a financial report released recently by the town government. 2014 was a record year for sales tax collections, so town officials are pleased that revenue is still climbing, said Town Manager Mike Scanlon.
The town reported that it collected $2.09 million in sales taxes over the first half of this year compared with $1.89 million last year over the same period.
The report breaks down sales tax collection by economic sector but not by areas of town. Therefore, it’s uncertain how much sales tax is being generated by downtown and how much is generated by Willits Town Center and Orchard Plaza, the neighborhoods where the town’s two grocery stores are located.
“It looks like Willits is a big driver in it, but (the increase) is across all sectors,” Scanlon said.
The owners of Two Rivers Cafe, Rick Kane and Pat Breed, said their business bounced back from a low point in 2008 and has stabilized at a strong level again.
Zack Fisher, manager of Basalt Mountain Inn, said bookings are up by a comfortable margin this year over last year. The fishing season started slow because of high water, but that part of the business is now strong.
“The weddings have been big for us,” Fisher said. “Overall, I see a lot of people in town.”
Advance reservations are strong through September for the downtown hotel. October could be busy depending on hunting season, Fisher said.
Fisher is bullish enough on downtown business that he opened the Basalt General Store in the Midland Avenue Mall two weeks ago.
Despite the sales tax numbers, Basalt is still facing a high vacancy rate on and adjacent to Midland Avenue, the main street in town. Herschel Ross, a councilman and a dentist with a practice located downtown, said he regularly hears from business owners and commercial property owners that business is slow.
“I still think we’re trying to get out of the recession,” Ross said. He noted that it took several months for Midland Clothing’s former site on Midland Avenue to fill. An antique store opened this week.
“The prices are at an all-time low or a 20-year low (for rents),” he said.
Ross has consistently said at Town Council meetings that downtown business and property owners want the town government to take action at the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site to spur vitality. A hotel is being contemplated at the site.
“No one feels like we’re anywhere close to where we were in 2006-07,” Ross said.
The town’s tax report reflects sales by business from December through May. There is a lag in reporting and receiving tax from the state government. Basalt’s bread-and-butter season is June, July and August, so it will take awhile to see how the summer shakes out.
Here’s a rundown of sales by major sectors during the first half:
• Sales tax collections by retail food stores were up 7.25 percent to $930,785.
• General retail was up 19.59 percent to $329,684 in sales tax collections, while sporting retail was up 8.68 percent to $94,627.
• Restaurants with bars were up 10.75 percent to $167,519 in sales tax collections, while restaurants without bars were down 1.73 percent to $55,095.
• Lodging was up 37.87 percent to $21,894 in sales tax receipts.
• Building materials were up 7.25 percent to $129,519 in taxes.
• Automotive services were up 15.6 percent to $102,441 in taxes.
The numbers reflect the sectors overall. Individual business performance could be higher or lower than the sector as a whole.
Sales tax revenue is vital to Basalt. It comprises 60 percent of total general-fund revenue.
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