Summit County municipalities finish summer with strong sales tax numbers
FRISCO — Summit County finished the summer tourism season strong.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, September sales tax revenue showed year-over-year increases in Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Dillon. Several towns also reported that September represented their highest year-over-year increase in sales tax collections in 2020. Only unincorporated Summit County saw declining sales tax revenue, though it was a less significant decline than in previous months.
In Frisco, September sales tax revenue was up about 17% compared with September 2019. The town’s year-to-date sales tax revenue is now ahead of last year, up 0.35%. September follows the town’s recent trend of increasing sales tax collections in the summer months. The town was up 14% in August, 6% in July and 4.7% in June.
Vanessa Agee, communications director for the town of Frisco, wrote in an email that she thinks the Frisco Main Street Promenade, outdoor dining and good weather helped businesses in the area.
“Overall, our mountain communities seemed to see a lot of visitors who spent money while they were here and in pursuit of safe outdoor recreation and a break from the places where they live where outdoor activity is not as readily available,” Agee wrote.
While sales tax revenue was up, the town’s lodging tax revenue was down about 19%. Year to date, lodging is down about 12%. The town’s ratio of vacation rental business to hotel business is similar to other months with vacation rentals making up the larger share of total lodging business — about 65% — while hotels, inns and bed and breakfast accommodations made up about 35% of total lodging business.
Dillon’s sales taxes showed a 13% increase in September compared with September 2019. The town has seen monthly year-over-year increases in sales tax revenue since July. Dillon collections are up 0.93% year to date.
Sales tax numbers soared in Silverthorne with a 22% increase in September collections compared with the same month last year. September is the biggest year-over-year increase the town has seen this year. The town has attributed higher-than-anticipated sales tax numbers in 2020 to a largely local residential population and the essential businesses in town that were allowed to stay open throughout the shutdown. Year to date, however, Silverthorne is down 0.5%.
Town Finance Director Laura Kennedy speculated that the growth in the number of second-home owners that have relocated to Summit County during the pandemic has contributed to the town’s increase in sales tax revenue. Kennedy wrote in an email that she has noticed full parking lots, more traffic and lights on in many neighborhoods that are usually dark.
“If people can work from anywhere, and their kids are also attending school virtually, it seems logical that they would choose to be in a beautiful place around fewer people in a home they also own,” Kennedy wrote.
Seven of the town’s eight sales tax categories saw increases, with The Outlets at Silverthorne being the only one that was down at about 8%. Online retail continued to soar, up 84%, which followed an increase of 153% in August and 100% in July. 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. Lodging sales tax shot up 41% following a 7% decline in August. Food and liquor sales taxes saw the biggest increase of the year at 27%.
Breckenridge also had a big month in September with a year-over-year sales tax revenue increase of about 18%. While Breckenridge was slower than other towns to flip from declining to increasing sales tax revenue in the spring, it has steadily increased its collections since June.
Of the town’s six categories, four showed increases in sales tax revenue while two, construction and restaurants/bars, showed declining year-over-year revenue. The weedtail category, which encompasses all legal marijuana sales, had its biggest single month increase of the year, up 61%. Short-term lodging sales tax collections also soared with revenue up 83%. Year to date, Breckenridge’s sales tax revenue is down 11%
Summit County’s sales tax collections saw a decrease of about 10% in September compared to September 2019. However, this is the lowest decrease the county has seen since February. August was down 10%, July was down 12% and June was down 27%. Year to date, the county’s sales taxes are down about 14%. The county’s transit tax receipts showed positive numbers with a 13% increase in collections. Overall, transit taxes are down 6% year to date.
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