Basalt sales surge 8.4 percent through summer
Robust summer sales have boosted Basalt’s sales tax collections by 8.4 percent through the first three quarters of the year compared with 2016.
The town collected $3.94 million in sales tax revenue through September compared with $3.64 million at the same point last year, according to the latest report by the finance department.
Sales tax collections were particularly strong in September. Sales by grocery stores and other retail food outlets were up 26.36 percent for the month, according to the report. As Basalt’s grocery stores go, so goes the town budget. They account for about 40 percent of annual sales tax collections.
General retail sales also were strong in the September report. They were up 12.58 percent while sporting goods retail fell by 5 percent.
Restaurants with bars had a surge of 13.32 percent during the month while restaurants without bars were down 12.58 percent.
The September sales tax collection report reflects actual sales made in August, according to Finance Director and Assistant Town Manager Judi Tippetts. August is one of Basalt’s busiest months because of fishing on local rivers, water activities on Ruedi Reservoir and visitors to the Roaring Fork golf and fishing club.
Among other big winners in September: lodges saw sales sail 30.76 percent and building supply stores were up 12.37 percent.
Not all sectors of the economy were humming. Automotive services were down 3.37 percent. Retail liquor sales were off 20.56 percent for the month.
For the first three-quarters of the year, several sectors of Basalt’s economy showed strong growth over 2016, the report showed. The surge was led by the grocery stores.
Retail food sales were up 5.12 percent over last year. The town has raked in $1.7 million in sales tax collections from retail food outlets through September. General retail sales were up 26.83 percent with tax collections of $737,461. Sporting-good retail was flat with tax collections of $180,626.
Restaurants with bars were up 18.42 percent with tax collections of $370,341 through September. That reflects the addition of new business such as Capitol Creek Brewery and Mezzaluna in Willits Town Center. Restaurants without bars saw sales dive 10.68 percent.
In other areas, automotive was down 3.53 percent through September, lodging was up 8.56 percent and building materials were up 5 percent.
The Basalt town government coffers are benefiting from the strong sales. The town planned on 4 percent sales tax revenue growth. While it is currently tracking at 8.39 percent, that could change by the end of the year, Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said at a recent meeting.
The town will continue to be conservative and budget for a 4 percent increase in sales tax revenue growth in 2018, he said.
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The steep Jail Trail that leads into downtown Aspen is getting a better grade to address safety concerns and make it easier for people to use.