Silverthorne on pace to see surplus in sales tax revenue
Silverthorne collected more sales tax revenue in March 2017 than it did in the same month each of the last five years, according to figures provided by the town, and if that growth continues to outpace projections, the town could be looking at a surplus by the end of the year.
“Things are looking great,” said Silverthorne revenue administrator Kathy Marshall. “It looks like we had a good ski season with decent tourism, and the building category is up, which is good news.”
Silverthorne’s March sales taxes came in at $1.04 million, or $58,659 more than what was collected in March 2016. The growth over the last five years has been steady, and every March since 2013, the monthly sales tax revenue has grown anywhere from roughly $24,000 to $80,000 each year.
In fact, Marshall said the last decline in sales tax revenue that she can remember came in the latter part of 2009. She recalled those as some “pretty tough years,” but added that almost everyone suffered similar downturns during the recession.
Things are looking much better now, she said.
“March is usually one of the bigger months — March and December,” she explained while attributing March’s strong numbers to spring breakers, the not-yet-closed ski season and increases in the sales of building materials.
Leading the way this March was a $53,934 jump — a 36 percent increase— in building retail compared to March 2016, while auto sales, consumer retail, and food and liquor logged more modest gains.
Marshall described the growth in building retail as “atypical,” especially for March, and added that she can’t quite explain it.
“You think about what it’s like (weatherwise), and you wouldn’t think there would be a lot of building going on,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s driving it, but it’s pretty impressive to have a 36 percent increase in building retail.”
A significant source of sales tax revenue for the town, the Outlets were down $18,676 in March compared to March 2016, an almost 8 percent decline. Additionally, the Outlets have generated $532,368 so far this year. However, that figure is more than $32,000 below the year-to-date sales taxes collected at the Outlets through March 2016, a decline of roughly 6 percent.
Marshall attributed the decline to the loss of two stores, Wilson’s Leather and PacSun, in January and February.
Still, year-to-date sales tax collection figures also show significant growth over at least the last five years, and so far this year, the town has collected almost $2.7 million. That’s roughly $166,000 more than what was collected through March last year.
In contrast, year-to-date sales taxes from auto sales, building retail, consumer retail, food and liquor, lodging and service industries all outpaced their March 2016 totals, with building retail again registering the most dramatic growth with an additional $123,724 collected, an increase of 32 percent.
Lodging was another strength, registering the second highest dollar increase in a March to March 2016 comparison and growing $23,067, or more than 11 percent, by a year-to-date comparison. Marshall attributed that growth, in part, to booming short-term rentals on websites like airbnb.com and VRBO.com.
Based on a 2 percent increase overall, Silverthorne expected to collect about $10.9 million in sales tax this year, based on the town’s 2017 budget projections. However, the town has seen year-to-date growth of more than 6 percent so far. If that continues, Silverthorne should see a surplus at the end of the year.
“Early in the year, we are ahead of projections, so that’s a good thing,” Marshall said. “Most finance directors are conservative with their budgets … There are usually dips and dives in certain months, but hopefully the economy will stay strong like it is.”
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