Summit County, Park City see boost in sales tax revenues
Summit County’s economy is alive and well, having left the downturn at the end of the last decade well in the rear-view mirror, according to sales tax numbers for fiscal year 2014 released to The Park Record by the Utah State Tax Commission.
Total local sales tax distribution in Summit County increased to $10,773,646 during FY 2014, 6.4-percent growth compared to the previous year. According to Utah State Tax Commission numbers, that represents the largest yearly growth since 2006.
Park City proper saw a 4.2-percent increase, to $4,344,792. Nate Rockwood, capital budget, debt and grants manager for the city, said that sales tax revenue accounts for about one-third of the city’s budget. Money from the local sales tax distribution pays for the general day-to-day operations of the city.
Charlie Roberts, spokesman for the Utah State Tax Commission said the rising sales tax figures are a strong sign the local economy is doing well.
"Given everything that’s going on, it’s obvious that the economy is starting to pick up," he said. "But that’s a very good indication of how things are going in Park City."
It was the fourth consecutive year of growth in local sales tax distribution. Roberts said the sustained trend is encouraging given the depths of the economy — and sales tax revenue — during the recession. Healthy sales tax revenues are particularly important to Summit County, which relies on visitors to the area spending money.
"Summit County is different than any other county in Utah," Roberts said. "It’s somewhat similar to Washington, D.C. With a relatively small population base, they count on those outside dollars. For the restaurants and a lot of the sales being good, that bodes well for Summit County. It really helps the local community that relies on the sales tax."
In addition to the strong local sales tax distribution numbers, Park City saw a large increase in revenue from the 0.5-percent levy added to the resort community sales tax Park City voters passed in November 2012. The increase in the levy took effect in April of last year, resulting in a 48.6-percent increase in Park City’s revenue from the tax in FY 2014, which totaled $11,083,219.
Rockwood said the effect of the added levy has been exactly as anticipated.
"At the time when we were taking that to council, I projected that would bring in a range of between $3.2 and $3.5 million per year," he said, adding that the money has gone toward acquiring open space and improvements to Main Street sidewalks, among other things. "And in 2014, it brought in $3.5 million. That’s what we’d expect when we have a good year. That helps."
There were increases in the county’s restaurant tax revenue (9 percent; $2,298,943) and Park City’s mass transit tax revenue in (5 percent; $2,100,964 total), as well. Figures for the transient room tax were not available, as the Utah State Tax Commission has not yet released its yearly report.
The health of Summit County comes amidst a time of overall growth for the Utah economy, with sales tax revenue trending up statewide. Roberts said strong performance in the private sector, combined with increased wages, has the state’s economy returning to pre-recession levels in many areas, though not all of them.
"Overall, things are going really well in Utah," Roberts said. "Utah is doing well when compared nationally, and Summit County is doing well compared to other counties in Utah. It’s a lot better than it was even two years ago."
The good news doesn’t stop there. Though economists do not expect the growth to sustain at such a rapid pace, they see the upward trend continuing, Roberts said.
"It may not be as rapid and bright as it’s been the last few years, but things are looking good in all aspects of the Utah economy," he said.