In a show-short month, Vail’s January sales tax collections declined from 2017
By the numbers
Here’s a brief look at Vail sales tax collections in a few categories. Percentage changes are from January, 2017.
Retail food: 13.14 percent increase.
Retail apparel: 1.15 percent increase.
Retail sport: 16.72 percent decrease.
Retail gallery: 56.71 percent decrease.
Source: Town of Vail.
VAIL — Towns in Colorado depend on sales tax collections to fuel municipal budgets. In Vail, the bulk of those collections come during ski season, which declined in January.
A snow-scarce month resulted in fewer visitors and less spending. For January, revenues declined by a bit more than $245,000 from the same period in 2017. Town officials had budgeted a slight decline for January in the 2018 budget, but collections fell $231,000 short of even that amount.
Both declines are a drop of more than 6 percent.
That January decline wasn’t as serious as the 14 percent drop in the dry month of March, 2017.
Despite a long-running effort to equalize winter and summer revenue, Vail still depends on winter for roughly 70 percent of its sales tax collections. Those funds help pay for everything from police and fire protection to seasonal lights and summer flowers in the town’s roundabouts.
The last several years have shown growth ranging from steady to strong. After revenues bottomed out in 2009, collections have followed an upward trend. In fact, in the years following 2009, it took until 2012 for Vail’s sales tax collections to surpass the pre-recession high.
In contrast, it took nearly a decade — from 2008 to 2017 — for the county’s real estate sales volume to again surpass the $2 billion threshold.
Drop in Lodging
Eagle County doesn’t depend as much on sales taxes as the towns —property taxes fund much of the county’s general fund. But county sales taxes increased by more than 10 percent in January. But the entire county accounted for less than one-third of the sales taxes collected in Vail.
In all the categories that accounted for Vail’s overall decline of 6.6 percent, the biggest drop in dollars came from lodging — 9.9 percent.
The news isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible, as Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said at a Tuesday, April 3, Vail Town Council meeting.
The $245,000 decline in January is a small part of the town’s general fund budget of $39.9 million in spending for the year.
And, one month doesn’t make a trend.
With decent, if not overwhelming, snow in February, the town’s sales tax collections recovered back to their budgeted amounts. In fact, February’s sales tax collections actually increased by 0.5 percent over the same month in 2017. Meanwhile, the county’s sales tax collections declined in that month, as well as March. For the year to date, county collections have increased by roughly 4.4 percent from the same period in 2017.
Vail’s March numbers aren’t recorded yet — those figures come from the state of Colorado — but officials believe that an earlier Easter may help bolster those collections.
March is the biggest single month of the year for sales tax collections — followed closely by January, February and December. That month will help bring the town’s revenue picture into sharper focus.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 and firstname.lastname@example.org.