Fly them in and they will spend. The spin on the "Field of Dreams" mantra is the basic logic behind the 3-2-1 tax proposal that aims at making sure visitors can find a flight into Yampa Valley Regional Airport and, thus, their way into Steamboat Springs businesses.
The proposal will be up for approval by voters on Nov. 6.
The dedicated sales tax would be aimed at the following specific items: 3 percent on lift tickets, 2 percent on lodging, sporting-goods equipment rentals, outdoor active recreation activities and instruction and 1 percent on restaurants.
The tax is projected to generate $2.8 million that would support annual flight revenue guarantees paid to airlines for ski season jet service. Of the funds collected, 20 percent, or $500,000, whichever is greater, would go to the free bus service offered by the city of Steamboat Springs. In addition, the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. will contribute $500,000, adjusted for inflation, to the transportation fund.
A transportation board made up of various business representatives and the City Council must agree on expenditures before funds could be spent.
Opponents of this tax argue that those businesses that see the direct benefit from winter tourism should continue to pay for the service as they have done in the past. They also believe the community is already overtaxed.
We agree that the idea of a new tax is unpalatable; however, this tax would be shouldered in large part by those who, we believe, would benefit most visitors to Steamboat Springs.
And we would argue that direct flights benefit far more than local businesses. They benefit every resident of this community as nearly every job and paycheck is directly or indirectly dependent upon the tourism economy.
Steamboat's economy is even more fragile now following the terrorist events of Sept. 11. With United Airlines cutting flights here and nationwide, guaranteed service is more critical than ever.
The 3-2-1 tax is an equitable way to make sure we can retain that service now and in the future.