Sales tax figures underscore busy Vail in March
It was 14.7 percent higher than budgeted projections and 5 percent more than last year’s collections.
The increase reflects a ski season resurrected from what seemed a dismal year early on.
Skier days nationally, according to the National Ski Areas Association, were 54.2 million – the third best since records have been kept. Numbers locally will not be released until early summer.
Skiers drawn to Vail and Beaver Creek mountains by excellent snow drove sales tax collections to $2.7 million – $346,000 more than what was budgeted and $132,787 more than last year’s March collections.
One of the largest single contributors was Vail’s 4 percent lift ticket tax, which was up 25 percent, or $139,000, from last March. Year-to-date, the lift tax is up 10.42 percent, or $200,457. over last year.
March’s numbers were a relief after the white-knuckled beginning of winter in which the national recession, a lack of early snow and terrorist threats depressed air travel and created a very shaky start to the ski season.
But it turned around with good snow and a national economic recovery that began to gain strength as winter progressed.
March’s numbers were artificially strengthened, perhaps, by an earlier-than-normal Easter that compressed skier numbers normally found in April into March, said Bill Jensen, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.
“Vail Mountain had a particularly strong period from President’s Day through the end of March,” he said. “Easter contributed by coming in March.”
Sales tax gains brought by an early Easter may result, however, in having the opposite for April.
Sales tax revenues in Vail through the first fiscal quarter are down slightly. The town has collected $7.01 million, about 2 percent less than it did the first four months of 2001.
January’s collections were 6 percent behind last year, but skier business picked up after that. All numbers are unadjusted for inflation, which is approximately 3.5. per year.
Approximately half of the town’s revenue comes from sales tax. Since 1991, the increased costs of operating the town and stagnant sales revenues have forced the town to dip into its capital fund for operational expenses.