Has Basalt’s economy finally hit bottom? | AspenTimes.com

Has Basalt’s economy finally hit bottom?

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO, Colorado

BASALT – Basalt’s sales tax revenues fell nearly 5.5 percent in May from the same month the prior year. Town officials figure that the weather was more of a culprit than the economy.

May is never a booming month for Basalt business, Town Manager Bill Kane noted, but it was particularly lousy this year because of the cold, rainy weather. “It had a chilling effect on the economy,” he said.

Basalt collected $215,661 in sales tax revenues for the month compared to $228,119 in May 2010. Before the recession struck, Basalt collected $273,022 in sales tax revenues for May 2008.

Kane said at a Town Council meeting Tuesday that informal chats with business owners indicate that June and July were better than May. He is hopeful that the midvalley economy won’t sink further.

“Some would say [the Basalt economy has] hit bottom. We prefer stabilized,” Kane quipped.

For the year to date through May, Basalt sales tax revenues are 2.3 percent below collections over the same period in 2010, according to a report by town finance director Judi Tippetts. Areas posting gains in sales are: grocery stores, up 2.3 percent; sporting retail stores, up 10.3 percent; and liquor stores, up 1.7 percent.

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Major sectors of the Basalt economy that are struggling through May this year are: restaurants with bars, down 5.2 percent; general retail stores, down 15.5 percent; and building materials, down 11.7 percent.

Despite the sluggish performance, Kane said there are signs the economy is improving. “I think the cup feels more full then empty right now,” he said.