Sales tax revenue continued to climb last year for Summit County’s local governments, exceeding expectations despite inflation |

Sales tax revenue continued to climb last year for Summit County’s local governments, exceeding expectations despite inflation

Local economies see sustained growth since COVID-19 pandemic despite economic uncertainties

Patrons dine at Breckenridge Brewery in Breckenridge on Feb. 13, 2022. Summit county government and towns continued to see sustained growth in sales tax revenue last year.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Amid fears of a looming recession, persistent inflation and uncertain economic headwinds, Summit County’s local governments have continued to see growing sales tax revenues — leaving officials cautiously optimistic for the future. 

Last year, the county government as well as the towns of Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon all saw increased sales tax figures compared to 2021, 2020 and 2019. The bump in revenue will afford local officials more leeway on ambitious capital projects — accelerating timelines and providing a greater financial cushion for this year. 

In Breckenridge, which sees the most sales tax collection of any Summit County government body, 2022’s total was $23,284,999. According to Revenue Director Pam Ness, the town finished the year with $4.6 million more than originally expected.

Still, while 2022’s numbers were strong overall, Ness said the town did see a sustainable dip between May and June. 

“It was hard to have an expectation with the way the economy was going and the numbers reflect that,” Ness stated in an email. “There was uncertainty during the summer along with gas price and inflation rising.”

According to Ness, sales tax revenue increases were smaller this year than in 2021, adding, “We are still experiencing the aftermath from the pandemic and seeing what the economy and the tourist industry does.”

With January numbers already in and the town seeing just a 1.6% increase from the same time last year, Ness said she expects revenue increases to slow in 2023.

“However, they are still very strong numbers compared to 2019 as January 2023 has an increase of 40.21% in comparison to 2019,” Ness stated, adding, “We hope to continue to see these healthy numbers come in for the rest of 2023.”

Silverthorne, which typically sees the second highest sales tax revenue in the county, brought in $17,385,998 in 2022 — a near 12% increase from 2021. 

Laura Kennedy, the town’s finance director, stated in an email that the town continues to be “pleasantly surprised by the robust local economy.”

Though inflation may be a reason for the higher revenues — since consumers have to spend more on the same goods — those increases are “mitigated by spending cuts that consumers make due to higher prices,” Kennedy stated.

Still, with such a large tourist presence, Silverthorne and other county economies likely benefit from vacationers who may be “less price-conscious” during their visits, according to Kennedy.

Jenna deJong/Summit Daily News
Sales tax revenue exceeded expectations for every town as well as the Summit County government in 2022.
Jenna deJong/Summit Daily News

The town of Frisco ended its year with $13,335,681 in sales tax revenue, a 20% increase over what the town budgeted for, according to Communications Director Vanessa Agee.

“This certainly has a positive impact on the town’s ability to provide not just quality core services but also to complete capital projects which improve town infrastructure and amenities going forward,” Agee stated. 

In Dillon, 2022 numbers were up more than 9% compared to 2021, according to Finance Director Carri McDonnell. Last year, the town reaped $9,980,908 in sales tax revenue. 

According to McDonnell, the extra income allowed the town to expedite its renovation project for Dillon Town Park this year as well as its improvements to the amphitheater which include new investments in its loading dock, road and parking area. 

And the Summit County government finished 2022 with $11,099,159 — a more than 20% increase from 2021. 

According to county Finance Director David Reynolds, that led to about $2 million in additional funding for the county’s general fund. Those dollars will help pay for a slew of projects such as the new Summit County Search & Rescue facility, the Silverthorne-based child care center and affordable housing plans, according to Reynolds.

“The 2022 sales tax collections bode well for continued growth in our local economy. 2023 sales tax collections for the first two months of the year are already 11.65% higher than the already strong 2022 results,” Reynolds stated in an email.

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