What’s driving Vail’s sales tax growth? | VailDaily.com

What’s driving Vail’s sales tax growth?

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Town of Vail officials have been trumpeting 2011’s sales tax increases, and rightly so. But some spots elsewhere in the valley seem to be making a strong recovery, too.

The most recent numbers from Vail show a big boost in November – 10.5 percent. That puts the town more than 11 percent over sales taxes collected in 2010. That’s good news, both for town finances and as a reflection of Vail’s business environment.

And those numbers are far more comforting than the 20 to 25 percent drop in collections seen around the valley in 2009, during the depths of an international economic slump.

But the increases in collections in Vail aren’t too far above those seen in other places in the valley.

The town of Gypsum is looking at 2011 sales tax collections about 9.4 percent greater than 2010.

Town finance director Mark Silverthorn said that performance is mostly due to strong business at the Eagle County Regional Airport in the first months of 2011. The town annexed much of the airport’s property in the 1990s, so it collects sales tax from the airport’s commercial passenger terminal. The town also collects sales taxes from every car rental transaction there.

Eagle County, which gets sales taxes from Beaver Creek, saw stronger-than-expected collections in 2011. County officials estimated a 6 percent increase for the year, and the actual numbers are closer to 8 percent.

Still, Vail’s leading the way, although the big increases aren’t necessarily being seen at individual stores.

Ron and Patty Weinstein own Roxy clothing stores in Vail and Beaver Creek. Ron Weinstein said both stores saw a gradual growth in sales in 2011, but not the double-digit increases for Vail overall.

Ron Byrne, a longtime Realtor in Vail, said Vail is a finished product right now, with a lot of new retail, food and lodging options.

“There’s a new vibrancy that’s really picked up the tempo in Vail,” Byrne said.

But, Byrne said, Beaver Creek is “holding its own” as a brand.

“Beaver Creek has the (world championship) ski races coming in 2015 and all the press that goes along with that,” he said.

The strength of the valley’s resorts is being bolstered by international visitors coming to both. That blend of customers from the United States, Mexico, South America and Australia is really helping drive business in both Vail and Beaver Creek.

And the resort market may be starting to drive at least some business growth elsewhere.

Onie Bolduc, president of Bold Real Estate Solutions, said his company is seeing demand build – little by little – for commercial space all over the valley. Bolduc said he’s seeing interest in small spaces, usually for young professionals making the first steps out of a home office.

Bolduc said much of that activity is in the upper valley, but away from the resort centers. While rents are still high in the villages, Bolduc said lease rates are more attractive in places including Avon and Minturn than they were a few years ago.

While there’s more interest in space, Bolduc said there’s still plenty of commercial space available. Still, he said, good business in the resorts is starting to lead to a better environment elsewhere.

“It’s baby steps, but that’s how you start,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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