Study: Basalt economy scores big with Roaring Fork Club expansion
September 6, 2006
The proposed expansion of the Roaring Fork Club would pump an additional $895,500 annually into Basalt’s economy, according to a consultant’s report for the town government.Grocery stores and restaurants would be the biggest winners from the expansion, according to the study by the Economic & Planning Systems firm. The study is a draft at this point, and subject to revisions.The consultant looked at the fiscal impact from the proposed addition of 32 luxury cabins, 18 free-market single-family homes and 12 affordable housing units that the club would need for new employees.The club is already one of the biggest economic engines in town, along with fishing on the gold-medal trout waters of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan rivers.The club has 48 luxury cabins that have an average annual occupancy between 40 and 55 percent, according to Jeff Jones, project manager for the proposed addition. Occupancy soars as high as 95 percent during July and August.”I talk to a lot of merchants downtown and a lot of them depend on Roaring Fork Club business,” said Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting.Kathleen Cole, owner of the Veranda Collection, a home furnishings store in Basalt, said at a recent public hearing that some shops would struggle without business from the club’s members.”I can’t emphasize enough the positive impact they’ve had on the retail in this town,” Cole said.Bernard Moffroid, co-owner of Cafe Bernard, said his business has benefited because club partner Jim Light is a frequent customer and has introduced many of the club members to the establishment.Moffroid has operated his restaurant in Basalt for 17 years. Summer has always been the busy season and it has picked up in recent years, he said. Although it isn’t entirely attributable to the club, that’s a big part of it, Moffroid said.$591,000 boost alreadyThe economic study estimated that the part-time residents of the 32 luxury cabins would spend an additional $444,500 in Basalt once the project is completed.The permanent residents of the 18 single-family homes would spend $370,000 while the residences of the affordable housing units would add $81,000 to the town’s economy. Those sales projections don’t include gasoline purchases because they are exempt from town sales tax.Applying the methodology from the study, the second-home owners in the existing 48 cabins already contribute roughly $591,000 to the town’s economy.All told, the new residents of the club properties would spend about $2.55 million annually in Basalt and elsewhere on purchases of taxable items, the study said. Basalt businesses would capture an estimated 35 percent of those purchases while 65 percent would “leak” to other municipalities.Jones noted that Basalt businesses will capture a greater percentage of the sales as the town grows and new businesses open.Development pays its wayThe study also showed that the expansion wouldn’t be a burden on taxpayers. Once the project is completed, it would pay $121,000 in taxes and various municipal fees. The town government would spend an additional $115,000 in expenses, leaving a net gain of $6,000 annually.A recent community survey showed residents want development to pay its own way.Jones said the project would make money for the town largely because the Roaring Fork Club maintains and plows its own roads. The addition would add less than one mile to the municipal system.The town consultant’s study showed that a special assessment on real estate sales and resales would raise more than $100,000 annually for the foreseeable future.The town and developers have agreed to a 1 percent Real Estate Transfer Assessment. The uses of those revenues are still under negotiation.The town study doesn’t reflect that $300,000 annually in property taxes would be paid to the Roaring Fork School District even though no students would live in the cabins, Jones said.The town consultant’s study is generally in line with the club’s projections, according to Jones. However, some of the biggest contributions to the community from the expansion don’t show up in a economic impact study, he said.Those intangibles include a new events center available to the public, a new kids’ camp and trail connections. Club members have also made numerous philanthropic contributions to local organizations and nonprofits, he said. And the club is building a total of 36 affordable housing units and turning 24 over to the town.”How can you measure that in dollars and cents?” Jones asked.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.