Winter Park, with highest sales tax rate in the state, and Fraser see increases in sales tax revenue
As Winter Park and Fraser prepare for budgeting and financial planning for 2019, sales tax revenues so far this year continue to increase on top of strong collections from the previous years, allowing for further town improvements.
So far in 2018, Winter Park has seen a 10 percent increase in collections as compared to last year and Fraser has seen a 7.3 percent increase as compared to last year.
Right now, Fraser’s sales tax rate is 5 percent, Winter Park’s — the highest in the state of Colorado — is 7 percent, the state is 2.9 percent and Grand County is 1.3 percent.
Bill Wengert, financial director for the Town of Winter Park, said there are a lot of factors that contribute to increased sales tax revenue, but believes the stronger overall economy, as well as investments by the town and Winter Park Resort, have led to increased traffic in the area.
“Our summer events drive a lot of our business in the summer, so we’ve had better attendance and more events,” Wengert said. “Obviously the economy is hot right now, so people have money to travel with and spend.”
Jeff Durbin, town manager for Fraser, also contributed some of the increase to a stronger national economy, the improvements at the resort and Fraser’s investment in transit and town improvements.
“We’ve certainly seen new construction in the last three years, but all of the people who are up here now is not just because of the new construction,” Durbin said. “I think short-term rentals have been a positive in terms of our local economy. I think that Rocky Mountain National Park has been advertising a lot, the change of ownership at the resort has clearly been good for our economy.”
In 2015, voters in both towns passed sales tax increases. Fraser’s rate increased by 1 percent dedicated to transit, trails and capital projects. Winter Park saw a 2 percent increase for transit and trails.
Sales tax revenue is the largest revenue stream for both Winter Park and Fraser. In 2017, sales tax collections accounted for almost 60 percent of the total revenue for Winter Park. The second highest stream was local fees and other sources.
Durbin said sales tax is the highest revenue stream for Fraser, followed by use taxes and then property taxes.
Winter Park’s 2017 $8.4 million sales tax revenues helped to fund mainly capital improvement projects, such as road and safety improvements, as well as public transit and economic development initiatives.
The $2.35 million raised in Fraser in 2017 went to capital improvement projects as well, such as the Cozens Ranch Open Space project, public art installations, public safety and street improvements.
Currently, no formal discussions to raise sales tax rates have taken place in either town. Fraser has identified some potential funding priorities for 2019, including a $6 million public works building, an arts center and continuing projects from the Fraser River Corridor Master Plan.
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