Mixed bag for March sales tax revenues
SUMMIT COUNTY – Based on March sales tax figures that came in Tuesday, local governments will be towing the line on their 2004 budgets and will probably not make drastic changes such as budget cuts or increases in capital projects spending as the county is in what appears to be a mild recovery from the national economic downturn.
Three of the five government entities reported small increases in March sales tax revenues compared to 2003, while Summit County and Frisco had decreases for the month.
Local governments across the board reported increases in sales tax collections for the month of February, fueling hopes that budget cuts spurred by the economic downturn were over.
Frisco reported its first positive month of sales tax collections in February after 16 months in the red, reporting an 8.04 percent increase over February, 2003.
Town officials said they were disappointed March revenues showed another decline. The decrease was 1.43 percent compared to the same month last year.
“There was not much snow in March, so we’re hoping (the March decrease) was more due to (ski) conditions rather than February being an anomaly and us not being on the road to recovery,” said interim town manager Theresa Casey.
Frisco is still up in collections for the year by 1.59 percent and real estate transfer fees are strong, so Casey said she did not expect the town council to revisit the budget.
“We’re still optimistic,” Casey said, noting that two events in June – the Barbecue Challenge and Ride The Rockies – are hoped to jump-start the summer tourist season.
The county’s 2 percent sales tax collections generated 3.2 percent less revenue this March than in March 2003. The county is still on track with its budget, with year-to-date figures showing a 3.6 percent increase over last year.
In Silverthorne, March collections were up 0.63 percent over 2003, when Target opened in town. Finance director Donna Braun said she expected collections in the consumer retail category, which includes sales at Target, to be down compared to March of 2003, since the store’s grand opening generated a lot of excitement and buying activity and therefore, sales tax revenues for the town.
Comparisons for uses that would show individual categories are expected to be ready next week.
Dillon reported an increase of 4 percent in March sales tax collections over the same period last year. The town is up year-to-date, also by 4 percent.
Judy Ferris, finance director for the town of Breckenridge, said she was pleased revenues for the town were up in March, showing a three-month run in positive sales tax collections. The increase for the month was 2.9 percent over the same month last year.
“Looking just at 2004, it’s the third month in a row,” Ferris said. “We expected to have 40 percent of our budgeted number collected by now and we’re tracking at 42 percent, so we’re seeing that as very positive in terms of being able to meet projections for the 2004 budget.”
The town of Breckenridge was probably least affected by the economic downturn. Ferris said that a 5 percent decrease in sales tax revenues occurred in 2002, and collections were still down in 2003. The town budgeted conservatively in 2004 and is on track so far this year.
“While this is good news, we are very measured and are going to continue our fiscal constraints,” Ferris said. “We are in our shoulder season now, so it’s not the time to change direction.”
The next significant reporting cycle will come in mid August, when reports for June sales tax collections may provide early economic indicators of the summer tourist season.
Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249 or email@example.com.
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