Pitkin County sales taxes dive in January | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County sales taxes dive in January

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY ” The drop in January’s sales tax revenues for Pitkin County was worse than expected, but officials said they will maintain a “wait-and-see” attitude concerning the necessity for staff layoffs and further budget cuts.

According to county finance director John Redmond, a total of $771,699 in sales tax receipts were collected in January, compared to budgeted expectations of $888,953. That equated to a shortage of slightly more than 13 percent. The January revenues reflected a decrease of more than 14 percent compared to receipts of $900,158 in January 2008.

For December, sales tax receipts were down by more than 15 percent compared to December 2007, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Receipts for December came in at $743,934, compared to $953,328 for December 2007.

The state collects the county’s 2 percent sales tax revenues from area businesses and sends the proceeds back to the county, which keeps roughly 43 percent and parcels the remainder out to Aspen (43.7 percent), Basalt (2 percent) and Snowmass Village (11.2 percent).

As it stands, the county’s 2009 budget calls for revenues and expenditures of more than $23 million for what are termed core services, including the general fund for basic operations ($19.6 million), roads and bridges ($3.2 million) and social services ($957,500).

County Manager Hilary Fletcher said this week that, while the revenue reports are lower than anticipated when the 2009 budget was drawn up last year, no decisions have been made concerning possible layoffs or other cuts.

The county had projected that sales tax revenues would drop by 3 percent overall in 2009, compared to 2008, and that the community development department revenues from fees would be down by 20 percent, among other predicted shortfalls.

But the Board of County Commissioners has agreed with Fletcher that, given the fact that the county enjoys roughly $13 million in surplus funds, it can afford to wait until more is known about revenue decreases.

“We have scenarios that still allow us to not make dramatic reductions,” she said, explaining that the county has banked about $3 million in surplus revenues from previous years; $6 million in money informally earmarked for construction of new offices and other facilities; and $4 million “contingency funds” meant to provide a cushion against economic downturns.

“We can dip into any of that,” Fletcher said, adding that county staff members will be presenting the revenue picture to the BOCC in April, along with recommendations concerning possible layoffs or other budgetary cutbacks.


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