Snowmass sales tax dollars down in February |

Snowmass sales tax dollars down in February

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Sales tax revenue in Snowmass Village was down 2.6 percent in February from the same month last year, according to a report from the town Finance Department.

The Town Council and the Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales Board track sales tax revenue as an indication of the economic health of the town and the performance of its tourism department. It’s never a positive thing to hear that sales tax dollars are down, but the report is not indicative of a trend, Snowmass marketing officials say.

“We had an unusually good group February (in 2013),” said Fred Brodsky, Snowmass Tourism group sales director and interim department head. “We didn’t have the type of snow … last February that we had this February, but our group base was just so good that it overcame that, and we couldn’t quite get there this February.”

The most notable of those groups was the National Brotherhood of Skiers, which brought more than 1,000 guests to Snowmass for a week in February 2013. With the Brotherhood, other groups and high international business during Carnival, Snowmass Village saw its highest recorded occupancy in a single month in February 2013. Occupancy this February was also down 2.6 percent.

“It’s just a year-over-year variation that’s really not that meaningful,” said marketing board chairman John Borthwick. “Last year was a really big year for groups, so we were always going to be challenged with the year-over-year comparison.

“The more important question for us, I think, is, how did we do across the winter as a total, as a whole?” Borthwick said. That question will be reviewed at the board’s June meeting, when sales tax data for the whole winter is available.

Sales tax collections for the 2013-14 ski season are pacing 2.1 percent ahead of last year, according to the report, which has data from November through February. Snowmass Village hotel occupancy increased 10.5 percent in March, according to a report from DestiMetrics, a Denver firm that tracks mountain resort activity.

“It looks like (March is) going to shape up very well when we get … the tax report,” Brodsky said. “I think the winter as a whole is going to be very strong for us.”

Occupancy in April likely will be down, however, Brodsky said. The late-season snowfall is encouraging more bookings, but without the Mountain Travel Symposium, a conference that drew about 1,200 resort professionals, occupancy won’t reach the same level as last April.

“That business (groups such as the symposium and Brotherhood) is cyclical,” Brodsky said. “You’re just not going to get it every year. I mean, the hope is that you’re going to replace it with something as valuable, but it just doesn’t happen that way necessarily.”

Breaking it down

The sales tax report divides businesses into industry categories. It does not report on individual businesses.

Industries in Snowmass Village that saw increased revenue in February were restaurants, .96 percent, and utilities, 4.6 percent. Categories with decreased sales were lodging, 4.4 percent; sports equipment and clothing, .99 percent; food, drug and liquor, 1.3 percent; general retail, 11.9 percent; and miscellaneous, 18.5 percent.

Despite a decrease in revenue, lodging still accounted for 47.6 percent of sales tax collections. Revenue from the town’s 2.4 percent lodging tax was also down 4.4 percent.

The real estate transfer tax fund saw a 300.7 percent increase in revenue in February.