Sales taxes across Garfield County up 2% in 2020 |

Sales taxes across Garfield County up 2% in 2020

Glenwood saw a decline, while rest of county steady

A comparison by Garfield County community of taxable sales from 2019 to 2020.
Courtesy Garfield County

Though retail sales were down in Glenwood Springs during the pandemic year of 2020, steady and even increased sales elsewhere across Garfield County trended toward the positive.

Based on reporting from the Colorado Department of Revenue relating to the 1% countywide sales tax levied with county voter approval in 2006, sales activity was up nearly 2% in 2020.

Separate from the sales taxes levied by municipal governments from Carbondale to Parachute, the countywide tax gives a good picture of how Garfield County as a whole performed through the various COVID-19 restrictions last year.

A majority of the county tax, 52%, either gets re-distributed back to the six municipalities within the county or goes to fund the Garfield County Public Library District and the county’s 911 emergency communications system.

County government keeps about 47% of the proceeds from the countywide tax. However, sales tax revenues pale in comparison to property taxes, which make up the lion’s share of county tax revenues.

As of Dec. 21, county finance officials reported almost $12 million in sales tax receipts. Final numbers for the year are expected this month.

“This puts Garfield County at 1.98% over 2019,” County Finance Director Theresa Wagenman said in her report to the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. “Our estimation is that we will be a little over 2% above 2019 when (final) funds are received.”

As was the case with municipal sales tax collections, the food services (restaurants and bars) and accommodations (lodging) sectors were down 2.8% for the year, according to the county report.

However, “Retail trade, our number one industry, improved by 4.85% over 2019,” Wagenman wrote in her report.

Also up from the prior year were liquor and marijuana sales, building materials and landscaping nursery sales, and manufacturing.

Those trends have been mirrored by the city of Glenwood Springs in its monthly sales tax reporting through October.

While overall sales have been down 7.3% year to date through 10 months for Glenwood Springs, sector breakouts for building materials and supplies, general merchandise, marijuana and miscellaneous retail have been up anywhere from 3% to 14%.

Standing in stark contrast to that, however, is a 20% decline in eating and drinking establishment sales and a 34% drop in the city’s special accommodations tax.

A piece of legislation passed in Colorado in 2019 has also helped local governments weather the pandemic, which saw a lot of consumers shopping online from home.

HB19-1240 required that online retailers use destination sourcing to determine applicable sales taxes, and to collect and remit those to the appropriate jurisdictions.

“We did see an increase in retail/trade and unincorporated Garfield County sales tax collections in 2020, which we attribute to the passage of HB19-1240 and related online sales,” Wagenman said in followup to her county commissioners report.

Taxable sales in Garfield County started 2020 trending ahead of the prior year, but fell off with the onset of the COVID-19 restrictions during the late spring and early summer. Sales again outpaced 2019 from late October through the end of the year, according to the county’s annual sales tax update.

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