Park City economy roared as coronavirus raged, City Hall numbers show
Sales taxes hit an all-time record during the 12-month stretch through June 30
The Park City economy roared even as the novel coronavirus raged.
City Hall in early September released year-end sales-tax numbers for the 2021 fiscal year, indicating the all-time record was set in the period between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
The numbers illustrate the extraordinary comeback from the early months of the pandemic and the business shutdowns that were designed to curb the spread of the sickness. The shutdowns wrecked the final weeks of the 2019-2020 ski season, but Park City started to show signs of economic fortitude by the middle of the summer of 2020. The solid numbers in the summer and fall of 2020 were followed by a ski season that was stronger than many had expected as skiers and snowboarders arrived in large numbers, drawn by an outdoors activity they saw as less risky than other options with the sickness spreading.
According to City Hall, sales taxes collected into the municipal General Fund hit nearly $14.4 million in the 2021 fiscal year, crushing an October 2020 forecast of a little more than $8.7 million. The nearly $14.4 million beat the nearly $12.9 million in the 2020 fiscal year, when the ski season was forced to end early. It also beat the little more than $13 million in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended prior to the impact of the coronavirus.
The actual sales-tax numbers in the 2021 fiscal year beat the October 2020 projections in each month. Some of the months of the 2021 fiscal year — including the key months of February and March — beat those of the 2019 fiscal year.
Two of the notable months were June and January. The tally in June — nearly $1.2 million — was extraordinary in a month that is typically a lull before the key stretch of the summer-tourism season. City Hall says the June figure was the highest on record for that month. In January, meanwhile, nearly $1.6 million was brought in during a month that is traditionally one of the strongest of the year with the Sundance Film Festival occurring annually in January. The figure dropped from the previous two Januarys, which was expected with Sundance held virtually this year. The drop was not as sharp as City Hall had projected in October, though.
A City Hall communication forwarded to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council in anticipation of a recent meeting indicated another revenue stream, called the transient-room tax and charged on short-term lodging transactions, set a record as well.
“While taxes are only one measure of community health and well-being, this type of success is a bold expression of a resilient, hard-working, and thriving community,” City Hall staffers wrote in the communication.
Sales taxes are seen as an important indicator of the economy since they are charged on such a wide range of goods and services. They are also paid by full-time Parkites and visitors alike while other revenue streams, like the transient-room tax, are typically paid by visitors.
“Wow,” the mayor said as he reacted to the sales-tax numbers at the recent meeting.
Beerman noted the June numbers, saying the sales taxes collected that month appear as if they are “a lot more like a peak month than an off month.” He said he would like to learn details about the numbers. He said he suspected people who moved to Park City recently and owners of vacation houses who spent more time in the community during the pandemic pushed the numbers higher. City Councilor Steve Joyce, though, noted the transient-room tax numbers as pointing to the strength of tourism.
Park City Manager Matt Dias said additional analysis is underway using data points like voter-registration numbers, student enrollment and the number of properties classified as full-time residences.
“Things seem to be happening at an incredible pace, economically, here,” the mayor said.
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A member of the Park City Council on Thursday remained especially concerned about the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. City councilor Steve Joyce delivered some of the notable comments during a meeting between Park City’s elected officials and Phil Bondurant, who is the Summit County health director.