It is not uncommon to hear an announcement these days about events being cancelled due to the novel coronavirus, and Park County is not exempt.
Several summer events, including, but not limited to, Bailey Day, Burro Days, TGIFairplay Friday concerts, Alma Festival in the Clouds, are all cancelled as of this writing, the Park County Fair has not been cancelled. To stay up-to-date, check with each specific event to find out the status.
How will the lack of events impact the county’s summer tourism and subsequent income for businesses and county entities?
Wayne Albers, Jr., president of the South Park Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of KB’s Kakery and Dorothy’s Tamales said, “Due to summer event cancellations, we anticipate a loss for our business; just how much is anyone’s idea.”
Albers, Jr. added, “The only good thing right now in this moment is that camping is now ok so we do have those customers that camp.”
“The county’s budget does not depend on revenue from sales tax, unlike El Paso county whose revenue is approximately 52 percent from sales tax,” Richard Elsner, Park County commissioner, said.
He added, “I worry about the Town of Alma and the Town of Fairplay, because everything they do is from sales tax revenue.”
Ray Douglas, county commissioner and former trustee for the Town of Fairplay said, “The Town of Fairplay depends on sales tax revenue.”
The Town of Fairplay Major Frank Just said, “We understand the economic impacts to the businesses and to the town, but felt compelled to make the decision we did based on the information and projections we had at the time from state and county sources.
“Hosting these events require months and months of planning for everyone involved. Remember, we had 256 volunteers last year just to put on the Burro Days event.”
Tina Darrah, town administrator for the Town of Fairplay, said “We estimate about 10,000 people attend Burro Days weekend. As far as our other events, our concert series is between 500-1,000 per concert and Independence Day would be 1,000-1,500.”
Darrah added, “Burro Days does not generate income for the Town of Fairplay as an entity, but we understand that it produces a lot of income for our business and nonprofit community. We do not have exact figures as sales tax is remitted on a monthly basis, however we do know that July is our biggest month of sales tax revenue in Fairplay. Our other summer events are similar in that they do not generate revenue for the town directly, but our businesses report increased sales during events.”
“The town puts on events for many reasons and while we always hope they at least break even, creating income for the town directly has not been our main focus. Burro Days, TGIFairplay Concert Series, Independence Day Celebration and our Plein Air event are all about bringing the community together to celebrate heritage, art, culture, and each other,” Darrah said.
What is the sales tax in the county?
Per the Park County website, “The sales tax rate for the Town of Fairplay is 8.9 percent. The sales tax rate for the Town of Alma is 7.9 percent. The sales tax rate out of town is 4.9 percent.”
Park County tourism data
Colorado Tourism Office Communications Manager, Abby Leeper shared the following data from 2018 for Park County overnight travel impacts
Travel Spending – 27 million dollars.
Earnings – eight million dollars.
Jobs – 461.
$0.8 million in local taxes.
$0.7 million in state taxes.
Tourism in Colorado and road trip prediction
Leeper added, “In 2018, travelers spent $22.3 billion in Colorado. This spending generated $1.37 billion in local and state tax revenues in 2018, not including real estate taxes. About 61 percent of these tourism-generated taxes goes to local governments.”
“We do not have projections on summer tourism in Colorado. It is still too early to tell how the state’s staged reopening will impact the industry and different counties and communities will likely be ready for travelers at different times.
“One prediction we do have is road trips will be popular as we’ve seen research indicating folks will feel safer traveling in vehicles as opposed to airplanes and airports, etc,” Leeper said.
County sales tax revenue
Cindy Gharst, assistant county manager, said, “The county’s revenues from a one percent sales tax do not cover General Fund operations. They are restricted in the Sales Tax Trust Fund. The sales tax revenues can be used to preserve, protect, acquire, lease, improve and cover maintenance of water rights, water systems/structures, open space, and wildlife and outdoor recreation resources. Sales tax revenues in 2019 were approximately $1.3 million.”