Our View: Keep the airline program aloft

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Editorial Board, January through May 8, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Traci Day, community representative
  • Dean Vogelaar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— When the Steamboat Springs City Council meets April 5, it will ask its constituents for advice on what do with $600,000 in annual lodging tax revenues that will be freed up when the bonded indebtedness on Haymaker Golf Course is retired in three years.

We think there is a direct line to be drawn between lodging taxes and the pending fiscal crisis in funding Steamboat’s ski-season airline program. And that leads us to conclude that the most effective and most appropriate use of the funds is to strengthen the airline program.

Resort officials predicted in February that the airline program would burn through the last of a $1 million reserve fund by the end of ski season 2012-13. Declining visitation in a tough employment market, discounted room nights and volatile oil costs all contributed to the situation.

Because the airline program is fundamental to Steamboat’s success as a resort-based economy, we urge city officials to begin planning now to add the 1 percent tax to the separate 2 percent lodging tax already collected by Steamboat’s local marketing district.

The local marketing district tax is used to underwrite minimum revenue guarantees the airlines demand before they agree to fly here. Before the tax on lodging was put in place, collecting airline revenue monies from individual business owners presented an annual crisis.

The beauty of the local marketing district tax is that we collect the necessary funds to support airline service from our guests and make good use of it ourselves. Vacationers traveling to Steamboat subsidize their own airline flights, allowing local travelers and businesses to capitalize on air service that surpasses that of almost every other community of this size. Could there be a better investment in the valley?

The 2 percent local marketing district tax paid for about half of the $2.5 million budget for revenue guarantees this winter, and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. covered the balance. Research done on behalf of Ski Corp. estimates that every vacationer who gets off a plane at Yampa Valley Regional Airport spends $1,100 to $1,200 in the valley.

Still, local marketing district tax receipts are in decline. City officials have said local marketing district revenues dropped from $1.48 million in 2008 to $1.14 million in 2009 to $1.04 million in 2010.

No other program that we can think of has succeeded in driving destination visitors to our community like the airline program.

We think dedicating the original 1 percent of lodging tax to airline program funding when it becomes available in 2014 is the least painful and most effective way of securing the health of our resort economy.

Comments

kathy foos 3 years, 5 months ago

Our View(me ,myself and I)I'm sure you do want us to pay for that. You Pilot, benefit directly in many ways through advertising proceeds,maybe you should pay more for it.Its odd how you all want people to sign their real names,but your opinion columns are in the form of Our View.....funny.

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callguinness 3 years, 5 months ago

Editorial Board, January through April 2011

Scott Stanford, general manager Brent Boyer, editor Tom Ross, reporter Traci Day, community representative Dean Vogelaar, community representative

Listed at the top of the page, so they really are signing their name to this, it would just be a funny headline for all their names to be in it.

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Scott Berry 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, Scott and Brent, once again, you have not done your research!

First, the Lodging Tax can only be used to build and maintain local amenities that enhance the local community. ie. golf course, tennis, biking trails, etc. It is definitely off limits to such things as marketing or subsidizing transportation.

So, using the Lodging Tax to subsidize the empty seats coming to Steamboat is a nonstarter. It is both irresponsible and ill-informed to make such a suggestion.

Second, the city council has its eyes on the funds to pay for the Orton property. They voted to purchase the ground with full knowledge that they didn't have the money to pay for it. (Hermacinski was the only vote against it!) So, now they have to get creative and "rob Peter to pay Paul".

Third, there will be numerous other interests in line for the funds.

And lastly, although the tax is collected by the "Lodging Community" it is a city tax controlled by the city and not the "Lodging Community".

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Steve Lewis 3 years, 5 months ago

Even if the tax’s use for airline subsidy were legal, the viewpoint above is disappointingly glossy and shortsighted. It represents $600,000 as an easy fix for securing a $2,500,000 program that faces aviation prices trending higher and regional services becoming more volatile.

In 2004, Ski Corp and the lodging community represented the formation of the 2% LMD tax and its $1,000,000 as the cure for their annual funding crisis. The result 7 years later? A much bigger crisis, coming at our most vulnerable time. The funding from the lodging community tax seems destined to repeat this scenario of worst case timing.

I understand the importance of the airlines. The chamber and ski corp will garner my support when they offer a steady future for this program. That likely means tapering down to a future of fewer inbound seats. It definitely means a program that is forced to apply reserves consistently over several years, rather than the empty fund in 2012-13 as proposed recently.

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sledneck 3 years, 5 months ago

Had a 4:30 pm flight to Steamboat from Denver today on United Airlines. My inbound US AIR flight was early so I got to the gate in time to get on their 11:30 am flight instead. They charged me an additional $50 to change to the earlier flight... even though there were about 10 plus empty seats on the earlier flight. TEN EMPTY SEATS and they still charged me $50 extra!!

In other words: if they couldn't shake me down for another $50 they were happy to see me sit in the terminal for 5 hours. What a bunch of A------s.

If I were a tourist I could have arrived in time to ski a half day or shop or... Instead, United took the money I could have used for a lift ticket or for shopping or, or... Didn't cost them one thin dime to let me on the earlier flight and it might have freed up a seat on the later flight for someone else or for weather delays, etc, etc... Instead they insisted on either inconveniancing me or ripping me off anyway!

If thats the kind of air service we have to our fair city why the hell should they get another cent?????????????? They sure won't get another cent from me.

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