Snowmass sales tax collections best in seven years in 2012

Aspen Business Journal

Staff Report, February 12, 2013

Sales tax collections in Snowmass Village rose 6.1 percent in 2012 compared to the prior year, according to a report released Friday by the town’s financial department. Similarly, Aspen saw a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenues last year.
Revenues generated for the town’s general fund from the 1 percent sales tax totaled nearly $1.39 million in 2012, which was slightly better than the peak year of 2008, according to the report.
A 2.5 percent sales tax generated $3.47 million for the town’s marketing and special events fund—also the best-performing year in at least the last seven years.
Only two months of 2012 were down compared to 2011—March by 10 percent and November by 4 percent. Otherwise Snowmass saw strong gains at the beginning of the year—15 percent in January and nearly 20 percent in February—followed by mostly single-digit percentage increases the rest of the year.
Summer and winter were up almost equally, according to the town’s analysis—summer by 6 percent and last winter by 6.9 percent. This winter so far (November and December) is down slightly from last winter.
All of Snowmass’ industries except special events and utilities saw gains in 2012. Sales tax revenues on lodging and the town’s lodging tax both saw a nearly 8 percent increase, despite the Silvertree and Wildwood hotels being closed for nearly eight months for extensive remodeling. Restaurants had a 3.3 percent increase in sales tax revenues in 2012; sports equipment and clothing a 6.5 percent increase; food, drug, and liquor stores a 1.7 percent increase; and general retail a 19 percent increase. Special events tax revenues were down 3.8 percent and utilities were down just under 3 percent.
Snowmass’ real estate transfer tax (RETT), a 1 percent tax levied on all real estate sales in the Village, was up 3.36 percent in 2012, despite eight down months. But the $90 million Base Village sale in September, along with an extremely strong December (500 percent up over the same month the prior year) and strong January (116 percent up) countered the other months’ declines.
With $2.2 million in revenues, it was the best year for the RETT since 2008, when $3.65 million was collected.
A separate report tracking occupancy trends, by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP) shows that while Snowmass bookings have actually been down in the past six months, room rates are up and the near future looks bright.
February bookings are up nearly 21 percent over last February, according to MTRiP, while January occupancy was barely up by a mere .1 percent. August through January saw a 7.5 percent decline.
During that same period, the average daily rate rose from $245 to $283 per night, a rise of more than 15 percent.