Won’t fill the gap in budget
Sales tax is back on the rise in Mt. Crested Butte, and town officials are pointing to the newly completed base area at the resort as one source of the revenue. However, the increase won’t be enough to cover a large increase in snow removal costs and a shortcoming in building projects this summer.
Two of the biggest summer months, June and July, haven’t yet been recorded in the town books, but as of mid-June the town was pacing 9 percent ahead of 2007’s sales tax revenues, according to a July 10 report from Mt. Crested Butte finance officer Karl Trujillo. The 9 percent represents an increase of approximately $74,700.
Despite sales tax revenues being 11 percent down in May, town manger Joe Fitzpatrick says, “Being 9 percent up year-to-date is good.”
Trujillo says 2006 was a big year for Mt. Crested Butte, when the town received $1.7 million in sales tax revenues. He says those revenues dropped about 7 percent in 2007.
A lot of the increase this year, Trujillo says, is due to the first phase of Mountaineer Square being finished, with retailers, restaurants and lodging all open for business after several years in construction.
Trujillo says business-by-business sales tax figures are confidential, so it’s tough to say whether business overall is better around the base area.
Slopeside at the base area, Peak Sports store manager Andy Eflin says July has been a little slow, despite a new weekly concert series that takes place right next to the store. “Our sales this summer have been decent,” he reports.
It may not be in the books, but Eflin says the slopeside events are a good thing to have. Peak Sports is staying open about an hour later during the evenings the concerts are held. “We haven’t seen a ton of extra business from that, but some, definitely,” he says.
Last Wednesday’s Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks performance was a big draw; Eflin says he hadn’t seen that many people at the base area since the One World music festivals were held in the 1990s.
Even if sales tax continues to grow, Trujillo says, it probably won’t be enough to cover a large increase in snow removal costs, and a shortcoming in building and permit revenues. The town budgeted to collect approximately $316,000 in building revenues, including permit fees and design review checks. The town has currently collected about $68,000 through June, and is expecting only a few other projects to go through during the rest of the summer, Trujillo says.
The maintenance department, which covers snow removal, is also considerably over budget. According to Trujillo’s report, the town spent approximately $5,000 on overtime to plow drivers, $59,000 to contract for additional snowplowing help, and $50,000 for assistance from the county for snowplowing. The town also purchased a new blade for one of the loader vehicles used for plowing, for about $20,000. “The maintenance department could be over budget by $100,000 at the end of the year,” Trujillo writes.
Fitzpatrick says the town will be cutting back on a few road projects this summer to keep the budget in check, but hasn’t made any other adjustments.
This fall, Mt. Crested Butte will ask voting residents to consider a property tax increase, among other measures, as a way to stabilize the town’s revenue sources.