Riding the bull: Summit County towns see record sales-tax revenue in 2017 | SummitDaily.com

Riding the bull: Summit County towns see record sales-tax revenue in 2017

Shoppers peruse the stores lining Main Street in Breckenridge on Saturday. Like the rest of Summit County, the town is in the middle of an economic boom with continued growth and record-setting sales tax receipts dating back to 2010.
Eli Pace / epace@summitdaily.com |

Like other Summit County towns, Breckenridge rode the bull through 2017 with more $550 million worth of taxable sales activity last year, an unprecedented amount that’s led to a 3.36 percent increase in the town’s estimated sales-tax revenue over 2016.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the nation saw its GDP increase by 2.3 percent percent last year, a far cry from the growth experienced across the four biggest towns in Summit County. Statewide annual statistics won’t be released until May 4.

In Summit, however, the most recent financial reports cover all of 2017, and Breckenridge’s shows that estimated net taxable sales finished ahead of 2016 by more than $18.1 million at $558 million.

Construction experienced the highest growth rate in Breckenridge at 9.22 percent over 2016, while restaurants and bars finished second at 7.65 percent. Weedtail, the town’s creatively named marijuana sector, was third at 5.22 percent.

“2017 continued the trend since the end of the recession in 2010, where we’ve had strong revenue growth in terms of the taxes that were remitted to the town and sales activity,” Breckenridge director of finance Brian Waldes said.

In fact, he thinks the only unremarkable thing about this upward trend is that, after seven years of continued economic expansion, it’s been largely expected at this point.

December was relatively flat compared to December 2016, but Breckenridge still saw record revenues both in terms of overall sales activity and from its Real Estate Transfer Tax, which was up $950,000 over the prior year at $6.19 million.

“You know, like we always say, everything comes with challenges,” Waldes said, explaining the hard part now is managing the additional people — which means building things like new parking garages — while maintaining the experience they’ve come to expect from Breckenridge.

“It’s always something,” he said. “It never stays the same.”

‘Robust’ and ‘booked’

Even though Silverthorne saw its lowest growth rate of the last five years at 4.3 percent over 2016, collections still increased to record levels last year, eclipsing 2016’s total by $460,843 with $11.1 million in sales tax revenue.

The record-setting trend dates back to 2010, when the county was beginning to emerge from the recession, said Kathy Marshall, Silverthorne revenue administrator.

Leading the way for the town last year, the service industries (22.26 percent), lodging (18.81 percent), consumer retail (5.86 percent), building retail (3.69 percent), food and liquor (3.65 percent), and the outlets (0.99 percent) all saw increases.

Of the town’s seven measured sectors, only auto didn’t gain on 2016’s totals.

The lodging sector’s almost 19-percent jump could be a result of the Hampton Inn and Suites, which celebrated its grand opening in January 2016 and has been fully booked as of late, said Marshall.

At the same time, the building retail category had “been very robust” through much of last year, she added, attributing much of that to new housing developments at Angler Mountain and Summit Sky Ranch.

“That’s leading to more customers for the service category,” Marshall said of the town’s fastest growing sector. “I’ve seen quite a bit of growth lately.”

‘A testament’

Frisco’s restaurants, grocery stores and general retail outlets are the three most impactful sectors on the town’s sales tax revenue with about $1.5 million to $2 million collected from each industry in 2017.

All three sectors grew in 2017, helping Frisco finish up 5.68 percent over 2016 with more than $9 million in total sales tax receipts last year.

Like other Summit County towns, this marks the seventh-consecutive year Frisco’s economy has shown growth. For Frisco revenue specialist Chad Most, it’s “a testament to the local business community.”

“Yes, we are on one heck of a seven-year clip,” he said, again crediting local businesses for creating that growth.

Individually, vacation rentals (29.98 percent), home improvement (17.48 percent), office (16.9 percent), clothing (11.99 percent), grocery (11.51 percent), marijuana (10.98 percent), furnishings (5.57 percent), utility (3.65 percent), general retail (2.25 percent), restaurants (2.24 percent) and liquor (1.61 percent) all posted year-to-date gains.

On the other side, arts and crafts (-18.18 percent), gifts (-5.49 percent), recreation (-1.93 percent), automotive (-2.60 percent), health and beauty (-1.09 percent) and hotels and inns (-1.09 percent) saw slight to mild declines.

Most said town officials realize “record-setting growth doesn’t last forever” and are taking a more conservative approach to this year’s projections, much like his peers are in Silverthorne and Breckenridge said they are.

Still, Most remains “bullish” on the short-term outlook, especially with recent rounds of snow boosting the first quarter of 2018.

All caught up and some

After spending the first six months of 2017 lagging behind 2016 year-to-date totals, Dillon surpassed them in the second half of 2017, piled on through the remaining six months and finished up 6.63 percent at $6.39 million.

The total from 2017 was $397,000 above 2016, giving Dillon the single-highest rate of growth for any of Summit County’s four largest towns last year.

The last time Dillon saw a drop in its sales tax revenue came in 2009.

Additionally, lodging in Dillon was up 9.71 percent compared to last year, an increase of $16,599 over 2016.

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