Supermarket props up Basalt sales tax revenues |

Supermarket props up Basalt sales tax revenues

BASALT ” Basalt officials were relieved to learn this week that the town’s sales tax revenues fell by only 3.5 percent in January.

The town collected $268,126 for the month compared to $277,830 in January 2008, according to a report released this week. Sales taxes collected by retail food establishments, which include City Market, were up 3 percent and essentially carried the town.

“I’d have to say this regional grocery store is not hurting a thing,” said Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt.

The retail food category accounted for $108,430 in sales tax revenues in January, or 40 percent of the town’s total.

Taxes paid on sales in January get recorded as February collections in the town’s budget. Sales in December dipped 11 percent, so Basalt isn’t dodging the recession. Nevertheless, the latest numbers are allowing officials to breathe easier.

“It sounds like, listening to other people, we’re doing somewhat better than other jurisdictions,” Whitsitt said.

Aspen was down 21 percent in January. Glenwood Springs was also down by double digits, Mayor Bruce Christensen said at a recent meeting.

Basalt Town Manager Bill Kane said the town depends heavily on spending by its residents rather than more discretionary spending by tourists. That removes some of the volatility of sales tax collections.

Basalt’s restaurants turned in a respectable month. Sales taxes from restaurants with bars were up nearly 7 percent. Liquor stores also did well, with sales tax collections up almost 11 percent.

Sales tax collections from general retailers plunged 23.34 percent from January 2008. The town collected $35,600 in taxes from general retailers compared to $46,440 for the month last year, the report showed.

Other major categories that fell were automotive, lodging, sporting retail and building supplies.

“It’s not as drastic as it could be,” Kane said.

Still, there are signs of trouble. Town Center Booksellers is folding this month. Crave, a restaurant at Willits, posted a sign on its door last weekend saying it is closed and will reopen with a different business plan.

The town government can adjust relatively easily to the sales tax revenue decline it has experienced so far, Kane said. Despite the recession, he hopes Basalt benefits this summer from Colorado residents sticking closer to home for vacations and passing through the town.

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