Poor August showing snuffs confidence of Basalt rebound | AspenTimes.com

Poor August showing snuffs confidence of Basalt rebound

BASALT – Basalt officials received a disappointing jolt when August sales tax revenues plummeted after July hinted at an economic rebound.

“We’re very surprised by August. We’re down 10 percent year over year,” said Town Manager Bill Kane.

The town collected $286,346 in sales tax in August compared to $315,411 in August 2009, according to a report by finance director Judi Tippetts. That snuffed thoughts – at least temporarily – of a recovery for the town merchants.

That’s because July sales were up 7.7 percent year over year – the first monthly increase compared to the prior year since December 2007.

Retail food sales, a category dominated by City Market, were down 7 percent. General retail stores saw sales slip 29 percent for the month. Building materials continued their free-fall, down 38 percent.

There were bright spots. Restaurants with bars were up 8 percent over August 2009 even though two prime locations on Midland Avenue remained vacant during the month. Sporting retail stores logged an increase of 17.5 percent. Liquor sales bubbled up 27 percent for the month.

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Overall for the town’s fiscal year, December through August, sales tax collections are down almost 5 percent from 2009, which was a poor year.

Basalt town government staff recommended to the Town Council Tuesday night to take a cautious approach to the 2011 budget. Revenues are anticipated to be flat in 2011 compared to this year. The poor report for August emphasized the need for caution.

scondon@aspentimes.com