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June sales taxes show positive economic trend for local businesses

Pedestrians walk along Frisco Main Street Promenade. Frisco and Silverthorne both showed increases in sales tax revenue in June 2020 compared to June 2019.
Courtesy Town of Frisco

FRISCO — While sales tax revenues initially plummeted when the COVID-19 shutdown hit in March, town sales tax revenues have slowly been improving with June showing the most promise for Summit County towns. Two towns, Frisco and Silverthorne, saw increases in sales tax revenue in June 2020 compared to June 2019 when the county began to open up to lodging, restaurant dine-in services, in-person shopping and other amenities. Breckenridge and Dillon still saw decreases in sales tax revenue, but the decreases were not as dramatic as they were in prior months.

As of June, the town of Breckenridge saw about a 21% decline in year-to-date sales taxes for 2020 compared to 2019. June 2020 saw a 29% decrease in sales tax revenue compared to June 2019. While sales tax revenues are still down compared to last year, June fared better than every other month since May, where year-to-date declines were as high as about 65%. June’s revenue was nearly $20,000 higher than May’s sales tax revenue this year. 

However, the executive summary of the town’s finance report for Breckenridge town council’s upcoming work session on Tuesday, Aug. 25, explains that sales tax is currently $2.4 million under the year-to-date budget and $2.5 million behind prior year. The real estate transfer tax is $523,000 under budget.

By sector, only “weedtail” — the category that encompasses all legal marijuana sales — saw an increasing percentage change from the prior year in June. Despite restaurant’s being open for in-person dining, the capacity limits seem to be taking a toll as the restaurant and bar category is down 38%. 

June pulled through in Frisco as the town saw about a 4.7% increase in sales tax revenue in this compared to last year. Year to date through June, this year is about 7% behind 2019. Of Frisco’s 17 sales tax categories listed, seven categories were down — including vacation rentals, restaurants and recreation — while 10 categories were up in June 2020 compared to June 2019. The utility category increased by about 67% and the office category was up a whopping 126%, approximately. The marijuana category was also up in Frisco.

Silverthorne also saw an increase in sales tax revenue in June 2020 compared to June 2019 with an approximate increase of 2.5%. Year to date, Silverthorne is experiencing an 8% decline in sales tax revenue. Of the town’s eight categories, three were up and five were down in June 2020 compared to June 2019.

Online retail continues to increase, with a 46% increase compared to June of last year while lodging stays down with a 21% decrease in June. Lodging tax collections were down about 28% in June 2020 compared to June 2019. 

In the town council packet for the upcoming Wednesday, Aug. 26, meeting, a memo from town Finance Director Laura Kennedy noted that budget amendments that were made due to expected negative effects of COVID-19 have been less than anticipated within the sales tax revenue stream, but greater than expected for the recreation center and Silverthorne Pavilion.

The town has attributed the increase in online retail in part to the Wayfair Supreme Court decision, which allows online retailers to charge state sales tax, even if the buyer is out of state. Overall better sales tax revenue numbers amid COVID-19 compared to other local municipalities have been attributed to Silverthorne’s 70% full-time, year-round population.

Dillon saw about a 12% decrease in sales tax revenue in June 2020 compared to June 2019. Year to date, sales tax revenue is down about 4%. The town’s lodging tax revenue was down 55% in June 2020 compared to June 2019 and down about 15% year to date.


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