April sales taxes show decrease in revenue decline in most Summit County towns
DILLON — The sales tax reports of Summit County towns show the financial impact of the COVID-19 shutdown and April sales tax numbers reflect the economic downturn, although they are slightly stronger than March numbers in several towns and even positive in Blue River and Dillon. March showed dismal sales tax numbers that were attributed to the onset of the county-wide shutdown, which began March 16. April was the first full month the shutdown was in place, while March, which only saw half a month of the shutdown, seemed to be more greatly impacted.
The town of Blue River continues to show positive sales tax revenue as Town Manager Michelle Eddy reported via email that the town’s sales tax revenue is trending 37% ahead of budget. Eddy said that month-to-date compared to last year, April sales tax revenue is 39% ahead. She noted that this increase in revenue has been attributed to online sales, while lodging tax revenue is 26% below budget.
Frisco saw a decline in April as taxable sales for the month were down about 15% compared to last year while March finished with a 25% reduction in sales tax revenue. Year-to-date sales taxes through April are down 9.41%. A finance report included in the June 23 town council packet calls April “a slight improvement over last month with only twelve out of seventeen categories showing declines in April of 2020 over April of 2019.” The report explains that April was the first full month of nonessential businesses being shut down, so it is no surprise that the majority of categories declined.
“Thankfully, April and May are our two lowest earning months in sales tax revenue, with things slowly opening back up staff feels the town will weather the pandemic,” the report stated.
Silverthorne also had a lower rate of decline in sales tax revenue in April when compared to March. Total sales tax revenue declined by 14.36% compared to April 2019. This amounts to about 10% less of a change in revenue compared to what the town saw in March, which showed a revenue decline of 24.46%. As of April, total 2020 revenue is down about 11%.
Laura Kennedy, Silverthorne Director of Finance & Administrative Services, said that Silverthorne contains several essential businesses and a mainly local population, which could explain the lighter impact of the shutdown to the town. While some sectors plummeted in April, such as lodging, which was down about 90%, online retail is up over 200%.
“Online sales almost doubled in April from March and so I think a lot of people are ordering online,” Kennedy said. “And in conjunction with the ordering online, Silverthorne has a 70% full-time, year-round population and so I think we have a lot more people who actually live here and support our economy, so we’re not as tourism-based as, say, Breckenridge,”
Breckenridge sales taxes have been among the hardest hit during the shutdown, showing a 65% decline in April year-to-date taxable sales. The town reported a 44.24% decline in March. The Breckenridge Department of Finance compiled a financial report for town council, which stated that the town is “approximately $2.5M under 2020 budgeted revenues in the Excise fund.” The report showed sales tax is currently $2 million under the year-to-date budget and $2 million behind the prior year.
“The town was greatly impacted by COVID-19 in April 2020, with the shut-down of many local businesses throughout the month of April,” the executive summary of the report said.
All seven sectors listed showed declines in April, including industries classified as essential services. For example, the grocery and liquor sector saw about a 25% decline in taxable sales.
The town of Dillon was an anomaly in April, reporting an increase of 5.74% in sales tax revenue in April 2020 compared to April 2019. Dillon Finance Director Carri McDonnell said in an email that this April increase is attributed to several years of back payments from online travel companies. She explained that the state did an audit of online travel companies and the town received sales tax from 2001 to 2012. Without the late collections, McDonnell said April sales tax would be down almost 25%. However, she said the state is reviewing the collections to ensure the payments truly belong to the town of Dillon.
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