Granby sets sales tax record during pandemic
July sales tax for Granby broke the previously highest revenue month for the town by almost $90,000.
During a time many local governments are battling budget cuts and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Granby has seen two months of record breaking sales tax this summer.
The town raised $521,076 in sales tax this July. Before that, June had been a record breaking month with $431,172 in revenue.
Granby has continued the upward trend in sales tax revenue that it has seen for the past few years despite the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even during the stay at home orders, Granby’s sales tax for March, April and May remained higher than the same months last year.
Prior to this summer, Granby’s best month for sales tax collections was October 2019 at $427,446. Eight months into this year, the sales tax has generated $591,455 more than the same period in 2019 or 26% more revenue.
Finance Director Sharon Spurlin attributes the increase in part to online reporting. Starting in June 2019, online retailers such as Amazon began reporting sales taxes for the area in which goods are bought.
However, online sales alone can’t account for the town breaking half a million dollars in a single month for the first time ever. The continued growth of Granby, coupled with an emphasis on outdoor recreation during the pandemic, likely contributed to the increase.
While many communities have been planning for budget decreases, Granby finds itself in a comfortable position for the upcoming budget season. It’s something town staff are enthusiastic about.
“Everybody should be very proud of what’s happening in this town,” Town Manager Ted Cherry said at Tuesday’s town board meeting. “That speaks highly of the community and what’s going on now with COVID. Not all the communities around us can say something like that.”
In other business:
• The board approved a police department purchase of firearms and accessories worth just under $10,000. Currently, Granby police officers supply their own firearms for the job.
The money will come from $10,000 already budgeted for the police department’s academy training. Granby police will not be using that money this year because the department is fully staffed and administrators don’t expect any turnover in the near future.
The purchase will include nine Glock 17 handguns to bring the number of department owned firearms up to 10. This will provide the eight officers a gun each, plus two backups. The purchase will also include eight tactical lights, eight holsters and eight red dot sights.
• The director of the public works department asked the town if he could move forward with improving the storm sewer line across Agate Avenue. With the construction of the Granby Station condos, contractor Mountain Madness will be cutting into Agate. This gives public works an opportunity to fix a “mess of pipe” that does not drain well and may have some corrosion, the director said.
Laying new pipe while the highway is already torn up would cost an estimated $40,000, plus $5,000 worth of pipe supplies purchased by the town and an additional $5,000 for incidentals. The money would come from the town’s capital fund, but the town manager said that doing these improvements at a later date would likely cost much more.
The board approved the work. It’s unclear when the contractor will begin cutting into Agate Avenue.
• The trustees approved a contract with Flywater to construct improvements on the Fraser River diversion southeast of Kaibab Park at the North Service Water station. The project will improve fish passage at no cost to Granby, as Trout Unlimited will be reimbursing the town with a grant.
• The town agreed that the public works department could move forward with hiring for a position that had previously been budgeted but delayed due to the pandemic. The position pays $45,000 plus benefits with the intention of having an employee devoted to street maintenance in the winter and parks in the summer. This will bring the number of full-time employees for the Town of Granby up to 36.
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Local commercial rafting companies remain unsure if or for how long they’ll be able to guide trips this summer down the traditional 6-mile portion of the Blue River north of Silverthorne.