Vail revenue declined in 2020, but not as much as town officials first feared
Town’s real estate transfer tax grew dramatically with real estate boom
When the Vail Valley’s economy virtually shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knew how bad the economic damage would be. It looks like the damage could have been much worse.
Vail officials almost immediately began planning for a loss of tax revenue — a way to track activity in the broader economy. As the town’s budget dropped into what officials call a “crisis” level, estimates showed that total town revenue could fall 20% or more. Through the end of November, the damage isn’t at that level.
The town’s most recent financial report shows that revenue across all funds declined by 11.6%. The town’s sales tax collections were hardest hit, declining by 15.4%.
On the other hand, the town’s Real Estate Transfer Tax — the use of which is limited to open space and similar uses — showed a 36% increase over 2019, the result of a booming real estate market.
The town’s parking revenue — which is used solely for parking operations — was a mixed bag. Pass sales declined 39% from 2019 — due in part to the completion of the Vail Health parking structure — but daily parking collections increased.
Vail isn’t alone, of course.
There was significantly less traffic on Interstate 70 in 2020 than the previous year. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, traffic through the Eisenhower tunnel showed a year-over-year decline of 14% from 2019. The 2020 average vehicle traffic through the tunnels was roughly 30,800 cars per day. That’s an average daily decline of 5,000 vehicles.
Vail Resorts on Friday reported significant declines in some of its operations so far in the 2020-21 ski season through Jan. 3. The company doesn’t break down individual resort results, but across the firm’s North American operations, ski school revenue declined by 56%, with a 66% decline in dining revenue.
• 11.6%: Decline in all 2020 Vail revenue through Nov. 30.
• 15.4%: Decline in 2020 Vail sales tax through Nov. 30.
• 36%: Increase in 2020 Vail Real Estate Transfer Tax collections.
• 14%: Decline in traffic at the Eisenhower Johnson tunnels from 2019 to 2020.