Basalt’s summer business bounces back after flaming out in 2018 |

Basalt’s summer business bounces back after flaming out in 2018

Downtown Basalt on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Basalt businesses bounced back this summer from the economic turmoil levied the prior year by the Lake Christine Fire, a town government sales tax report indicates.

Sales were up 8.2 percent in September compared to the same month in 2018, according to a report by town finance director Christy Hamrick.

That follows the trend sent earlier this summer: the August sales tax report showed growth of 10.8%, July was up 4.5% and June surged 9.7%.

The monthly tax reports reflect actual sales for the prior month because there is a month delay in paying the taxes. Therefore, the reports show strong sales for May through August — Basalt’s strongest tourist season.

“The month of September comparison was up 8.2% between September 2018 and September 2019, which is attributable to the Lake Christine Fire last year,” Hamrick’s report said.

The Lake Christine Fire struck July 3 last year. The threat of wildfire closed businesses throughout the midvalley during the busy Fourth of July weekend. Heavy smoke diminished travel by second-home owners and visitors through the summer.

Therefore, this year’s sales should show an increase. For the year-to-date through September, Basalt town government has collected $4.8 million this year. That is an increase of 7.5% from the $4.47 million collected at the same time in 2018. It’s also ahead of the record pace established in 2017.

Every major sector of the economy is up so far this year from 2018 except restaurants, the latest report showed.

Retail food sales, anchored by the City Market and Whole Foods, were up 2.3% from the year before. They accounted for $1.7 million in sales tax revenue.

General retails sales shops were up 25.7% while sporting good retail was up 3.8%. General retail accounted for $926,114 in sales tax revenue through September.

Lodging is posting the strongest showing in 2019 with sales up 26.9%, the report showed.

Sales by automotive-related businesses were up 8.9% year-to-date while building materials were up 24.5%.

The only blemish in sales through the third quarter was by restaurants with bars, down 0.5%, and restaurants without bars, down 9.6%.

The town government anticipates achieving the budgeted amount for 2019 in sales tax revenue.

“Sales tax for 2018 totaled $6,086,425, and the Town budgeted $6,425,113 for 2019, representing a 5.5% increase in sales tax budgeted,” Hamrick wrote. “We are currently on track to achieve or exceed our budget goal.”

Sales tax revenues are vital to the town’s budget. Sales tax funds will produce about 60% of the general fund revenue in 2020, according to the town budget. Additional sales tax goes the parks, open space and trails fund.


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