As expected, Summit County towns see sales slump in April
July 2, 2018
Of Summit County's four largest towns, only Silverthorne bucked the trend of declining sales taxes in April compared to April 2017.
Nobody seems to be too worried about the numbers, though, as the top financial officers in Breckenridge, Frisco and Dillon all attributed April's dip in sales tax receipts — ranging from 1.25 to 4.04 percent — to the roaming Easter holiday.
Observed on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, Easter fell on April 1 this year, a Sunday, as opposed to the middle of the month, like it did in 2017. Without the bulk the high-tourism weekend on April's books, the annual boost landed mostly on March.
The result for most Summit County's towns was a decline in April's sales compared to the same month in 2017. Only Silverthorne, which finished the month up 11.07 percent, didn't see a reduction in April's sales.
Breckenridge came into the year with three months of strong gains ranging from 8-13 percent, but the town was down 4.04 percent in April. At the same time, Dillon was off 1.25 percent and Frisco was 1.75 percent behind.
"We think that the difference is the Easter holiday in March, and we think that has an impact," explained Carri McDonnell, Dillon's director of finance. She wasn't speaking for all three towns but easily could have been.
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In Breckenridge, the town's director of finance Brian Waldes saw April's decline coming well ahead of his latest financial report and warned Breckenridge Town Council last month to expect a slump.
For a more accurate snapshot, Breckenridge town staff produced a report comparing estimated sales tax receipts from March and April of this year to the same two months in 2017, a move Waldes said levels off any effects of the shifting holiday weekend.
The result, he continued, was Breckenridge "still ended up with our ridiculous gains," and the town was up 8.2 percent in April and March compared to the same two months in 2017. Furthermore, Breckenridge remains 9.14 percent ahead year to date.
Piggybacking the idea of lumping March and April together, Frisco and Dillon both produced similar snapshots, and Frisco's showed the town was up 4.26 percent, while Dillon saw an almost 10 percent spike, during the same time frame.
"Looking back on April," said Frisco revenue specialist Chad Most, "it was fairly predictable, based mainly on the timing of Easter and poor skiing and riding conditions."
As such, he said achieving the same kind of growth Frisco's been seeing as of late, and largely since emerging from the recession, would have been difficult.
Quite amazingly, the last time Frisco saw a month-over-month decrease in its sales tax receipts prior to April was in May 2015 and in December 2012 prior to that.
Looking to May, Most expects it could be a "very strong" month, despite a number of restaurants closing for much of the month, with it being the beginning of summer. Year to date, Frisco was 6.27 percent ahead through April.
Dillon came into the new year with a series of blockbuster reports, roughly 20-30 percent ahead of the same months in 2017.
Even though the skyrocketing sales tax reports have leveled off somewhat to less dramatic gains, McDonnell remains bullish on Dillon's future, noting the town remains "a very solid" 16.5 percent ahead through the first four months this year.
McDonnell attributed much of Dillon's growth to its retail and restaurant sectors, but added almost every industry in town is up.
Meanwhile, Silverthorne's strong April was buoyed by the building retail category, which almost doubled sales compared to April 2017 and more than offset month-over-month losses in the consumer retail, outlets and service sectors.
Kathy Marshall, the town's revenue administrator said a couple large assessments produced the jump, which the town's happy to have, naturally, "but it kind of skews everything."
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