Is Referendum 2B the best answer for everyone in our community? Are we even asking ourselves the right questions in addressing such a complex issue? Maybe we just need to look at the bigger picture.
Steamboat Springs Referendum 2B: “Shall City of Steamboat Springs sales and use taxes be increased $1,300,000.00 annually … ?”
And then from an article in the Oct. 5 Steamboat Today: “(City Finance Director Deb) Hinsvark said department directors submitted budgets in July, which had to be cut by more than $700,000. She said the cuts primarily would impact Steamboat Springs Transit …”
Now, some might say these two items are not related. But maybe they are. How are our local workers, who were counting on the bus, going to get to work this winter with reduced Steamboat Springs Transit service? What about the skiers who have come to expect excellent local bus service in Steamboat Springs? And what about the late-night bus service that was touted as successful last ski season? Will it be back or will it be cut or reduced as well?
“Airline program is key to our economy … The goal is to use local $500,000 annual investment to get back to 160,000 available seats by 2016 …” (“Our View: Airline program is key to our economy,” Oct. 5 Steamboat Today).
Being a curious person, how will “they” invest the additional $800,000 in annual taxes? If only $500,000 is needed annually to get back to 160,000 available seats by 2016, why are we voting to tax ourselves, and our visitors, to raise more than $1,300,000 annually? And couldn’t some of that “extra money” be used to support continuing and improving Steamboat Springs Transit service?
Why aren’t we voting to increase the lodging tax? It would be paid almost entirely by visitors coming to Steamboat. Do you think they would notice another 1 percent on their lodging bill? That’s probably less than $20 on a $4,000-plus vacation. And won’t the current lodging tax generate much more revenue for airline seats as the economy recovers and people start vacationing again?
Why aren’t we voting on a lift ticket tax for airline seats, Steamboat Springs Transit and transportation services in general?
Now the real question: Are we where we are today because of less winter airline seats being available? Or are we where we are today because the entire economy tanked in late 2008 and has yet to recover to any significant degree?
Based on the information provided, even with fewer seats available, we have been paying for empty airline seats for each of the past three ski seasons. How many of the additional airline seats we would be providing, during this down economy, will actually have butts in them? Just because we provide more seats in the next five years does not mean there will be skiers to sit in them, at least not until the economy recovers and more people are working.
Do we really want to tax ourselves to provide more winter airlines seats while we reduce the number of winter Steamboat Springs Transit seats? Is this really “maintaining our Steamboat lifestyle” as all the ads say?
David L. Lilly