Frisco revenues down, but town within budget
FRISCO – Frisco’s sales tax revenues were down almost 15 percent in January – two months before the town’s highest revenue generator, Wal-Mart, would realize any impact from Silverthorne’s Target store. But the town is still within its budget, and officials continue to explore ways to cut back its expenses.
“We’re on track for the year,” said Frisco Assistant Town Manager Theresa Casey. “The economy is still suffering as a result of Sept. 11, and they’re really not predicting a comeback from that for almost a year.”
Frisco officials expected the town’s sales tax revenue to suffer a $300,000 hit this year ($100,000 per quarter) once Target opened and have budgeted for that loss, Casey said.
Officials budgeted for only nine months of competition this year, however, and Target opened in early March, she said. Frisco won’t know the exact effect of Target’s first month of competition with Wal-Mart until early June, when the town receives its sales tax reports for March.
That the United States has gone to war doesn’t alleviate the town’s financial concerns, either.
“We were not planning on (the war) when we were budgeting and don’t have any idea how that will affect us,” Casey said.
Still, she said town officials are not panicking.
January’s revenues weren’t the worst of recent monthly declines, Casey said. Last year, revenues were down almost 25 percent in both September and November.
“May was really good for us last year,” she said. “For some reason, we were up 53.23 percent.”
May’s success brought the town’s overall decline in revenues last year to only 2.13 percent, Casey said.
The town soon will wrap up its economic development study, which officials hope will provide them with some new ideas to generate revenue. And town officials continue to look for ways to cut expenses.
“We have made a few changes already,” Casey said.
Frisco changed an insurance carrier this year – saving $160,000, she said, and officials are reviewing the employee benefit program to determine whether the town could save more money by increasing employee participation.
“We have left one position in Public Works unfilled,” Casey said.
Frisco officials have no current plans to rehire for that position, which will save an additional $45,000, she said. The town also is about to lose an employee in another department, and officials are examining how to reorganize that department to eliminate the need to rehire for that position as well.
“Even the little stuff counts in this,” she said. “We’ve changed our stationery, and we’re spending less money on office supplies. We’re just really trying to streamline things and be overly conservative.”
Frisco officials continue to eye a few of the town’s properties – the 10-acre parcel behind Safeway and a small parcel near the Lakefront Park and Marina – as potential sites for revenue-generating developments, Casey said.
“We’ve got some cards yet to play,” she said. “We’re doing things to get us through these economically down times and council is working hard on some resolution for the issues that we have out there.”
Town officials are excited about Wal-Mart’s recent remodel, Casey said.
Wal-Mart completed its renovations earlier this month, said Store Manager Robert Ownbey, which included painting the building’s exterior and completely remodeling the interior – new paint, carpet, tiles and fixtures. Wal-Mart added a one-hour photo service and expanded its grocery section.
The town already has given Wal-Mart the green light for its plans to build a garden center on the north end of the building, Casey said. The permanent greenhouse will allow the store to carry plants all year long, and should be complete before the summer season, Ownbey said.
Ownbey didn’t appear worried about the competition with Target.
“Target’s a good competitor, and we’re happy to have that competition,” he said.
Frisco Councilmember Rick Amico said he thinks Target’s impacts will lessen early next year.
“I personally feel confident that after we get through the first four quarters … that the newness of Target will have worn off,” Amico said. “I think everything will stabilize and then we’ll have a good idea of what we can expect.”
Wal-Mart’s renovations likely will help the store in its competition with Target, he said.
“I think, from a budget standpoint, that the town of Frisco is okay,” Amico said. “So I’m not in panic mode, but definitely concerned.”
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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