Steamboat Springs Routt County commissioners released some financial statistics on the Yampa Valley Regional Airport that showed neighboring Moffat County has spent more money on the airport than the city of Steamboat Springs.
Steamboat Springs City Council members did not react favorably to the statistics that implied the city was skimping on an airport that brings the most benefit to Steamboat's economy.
"I don't like it when they take statistics and use it to show one side," said Kathy Connell, president pro tem of the City Council.
Commissioners released the statistics just a week and a half after the county sent a letter asking the city of Steamboat to contribute $100,000 to help fund operations and capital improvement projects for budget year 2002.
The county had to take $421,000 out of its general fund this year to make sure YVRA had enough money to operate.
"We acknowledge the airport won't ever break even, but it's not totally our responsibility," said County Commissioner Doug Monger.
County officials have said 80 percent of the destination skiers to Steamboat come in through the airport.
City Council members acknowledge that fact, but they also say the city supports the airport in other ways not so obvious.
"A huge amount of the property tax that is levied in Routt County, comes from within the city limits," said council member Arianthe Stettner.
"Routt County also has a 1 percent sales tax where a huge percentage is generated within city limits. I would like to think, that some of those revenues would be able to be pointed toward the airport."
But the county commissioners say that Routt County has invested $7 million dollars in YVRA since 1986, compared to Steamboat's $577,000. Moffat County invested $761,512 in the airport, said commissioners.
"I think it's very surprising," said Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, reacting to the difference between Moffat County's and Steamboat's contributions.
The town of Hayden has tried to contribute to the airport each year as well, and it plans to give $19,000 from its 2001 budget.
The city of Craig in Moffat County contributed $97,000 since 1986.
"That's why we're asking the city to contribute to the airport. The other counties and cities realize the importance of the airport to the region."
City Council members said the county and city do need to discuss the operation of the airport, but the county may be end up disappointed. Council member Stettner said the city is dealing with a $1 to $2 million budget shortfall, and is still paying for an airport terminal at the Steamboat airport.
The terminal was left by a previous City Council that had hoped to keep commercial service at Bob Adams Airport in Steamboat. That failed, but the city was left with a huge debt, paying $420,000 a year from its general fund. Still, council members are open to discussing the county's difficulty of having to operate and subsidize a seasonal airport
"We do have budget challenges and this would have to be placed in perspective to all our other challenges," said councilman Jim Engelken.
Engelken also added what many people in Routt County might be thinking when talking about the two local airports:
"I guess I have a hard time subsidizing two airports," he said. "I wish we had just one airport. That's a question that ought to be discussed further."