Park City economy roared as the ski season started
Sales-tax collections beat projections by a wide margin
City Hall in November collected more than $1.1 million in sales taxes, an extraordinary figure that beat projections by a wide margin and topped the numbers from the previous two Novembers.
It had been expected that the number in November would be strong, but it was not clear how high the figure would climb from the projections. The large crowds in September and October continued into November, the first month of the ski season.
The more than $1.1 million collected in November in the municipal General Fund soared above a City Hall projection made in October, when officials forecast the figure would be $667,118. Park City leaders in October revisited the municipal budget amid the continued concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus and the impact on the economy and sales-tax collections.
The number in November, meanwhile, tore past the little more than $820,000 collected in the same month in the previous year and the nearly $706,000 in November of 2018.
The November figure marked the third consecutive month the sales-tax figures beat the previous year’s numbers.
The Park City economy has consistently outperformed since the summer, after the shutdowns designed to halt the spread of the sickness forced an end to the 2019-2020 ski season in March, several weeks earlier than planned. Businesses in a wide range of sectors temporarily closed in the spring of 2020 before reemerging late in the spring and in the summer. The local economy since then has surged with a mix of Parkites, people from the Wasatch Front and those from outside of Utah spending money.
The sales-tax numbers are an important economic gauge since they are charged on a wide range of transactions. They are seen as less stable, though, than other City Hall revenue streams like property taxes since they are more apt to fluctuate based on economic conditions.
The November figure could provide some encouragement to the business community since it covers the early days of the ski season. Park City Mountain Resort opened the first-ever socially distant season in November while Deer Valley Resort followed the next month.
Although November is not as important economically as other months of the ski season, the strong numbers that month could signal there was a desire for people to return to the slopes at the start of the season and after the early end of the 2019-2020 season. There was hope of pent-up demand by skiers and snowboarders as the season approached.
There have been reports in the business community that sales during the important holiday period in December were solid. The sales-tax numbers from that month are expected to be released by the middle of March.
The numbers from the period covering December until March will be more telling than those of November since they are the core months of the ski season. A City Hall communication prepared in anticipation of a recent meeting of the Park City Council acknowledged the importance of the other months.
“Despite the strong trajectory of sales taxes thus far, staff is eager to obtain data from December and January to help determine the financial impacts of COVID during our highest periods of visitation,” City Hall staffers wrote.
December normally draws large crowds for the holidays while the Sundance Film Festival usually brings tens of thousands of people to Park City in January. Though the holidays were likely a solid stretch, Sundance was held virtually this year. The numbers in January without Sundance as a live event will be notable since the festival is normally an especially lucrative stretch in a variety of key business sectors.
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Daniel Lewis, an Old Town resident who unsuccessfully sought a spot on the Park City Council in 2019, said this week he will mount another campaign this year.