Park City sales-tax figures in December power past projections, a sign economy continues to roar
The numbers show business was brisk during the first full month of ski season, important holiday stretch
City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
The numbers in December show the Park City economy still was roaring during the first full month of the ski season. December is normally an important month to the tourism-heavy economy with both of the mountain resorts open and the holiday stretch drawing people.
According to numbers released by the municipal government, a little more than $1.7 million in sales taxes were collected in the General Fund in December. Officials in October had projected the figure would be $951,823.
The little more than $1.7 million was off from the number in December of 2020, but the difference was not a staggering divergence on a year-over-year basis. The figure pushed toward $1.9 million in the same month in the earlier year.
The December number was the sixth consecutive beat of City Hall’s projections for the 2021 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2021. In each of the months between July and December, the actual sales-tax figure topped October projections by wide margins.
Park City appeared to be busy in December, and there was anecdotal talk of solid sales, but it was not clear until the release of the report whether the crowds were spending at the same level as previous years. Sales taxes are seen as an important indicator for the overall Park City economy since they are charged on such a wide variety of goods and services.
The strong December report could serve as a preview for the rest of the ski season. Although the January numbers will likely be depressed from the previous year with the especially lucrative Sundance Film Festival having been held virtually, February appeared to be busy and March lodging projections on many dates show bookings in range of last year. If February and March figures reflect those of December, it would put City Hall in a solid position financially as Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council move into the annual spring budget talks.
Park City has performed well economically since the early months of the pandemic. The spread of the sickness forced an early end to the 2019-2020 ski season as part of a broad shutdown of businesses as public health officials attempted to curb the spread. The Park City economy suffered terribly in April and May, which are usually the slowest business months of the year anyway, but the comeback started to mount in the summer before a gangbuster fall with the September-November period posting impressive sales-tax figures.
The strong numbers followed initial uncertainty regarding travel habits during the pandemic. There were worries about traveler hesitance and the national economy in the first months of the spread of the sickness.
Park City attempted to bill itself as a destination where many of the activities like hiking and bicycling in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter occur outside, where experts say there is less of a danger of coronavirus transmission than there is inside.
The efforts have been successful with the summertime and fall crowds enjoying a Main Street pedestrian zone designed to allow for social distancing and the winter visitors seeming to abide by public health guidelines.
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Park City Attorney Margaret Plane recently sent a memo to elected and appointed officials, as well as candidates in the City Hall election, cautioning them about making public statements regarding development proposals. The memo outlines that stands on planning and zoning matters could jeopardize a later process, such as when a decision by the Planning Commission is put to the City Council through an appeal.