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Air service is one of the most important economic drivers for our community, touching directly or indirectly every individual, family, business and organization across our community. For the past 25 years, we have made payments to the airlines to ensure adequate air service. More than $30 million has been invested to date. As a result of the recession, airline consolidation and increased fuel costs, we have seen dramatic increases in costs per flight. With limited resources, we have been forced to reduce service by 27 percent throughout the past three years (2007-08 to 2010-11). Never in the 25-year history of the program have we seen this kind of reduction.
If this trend continues, the adverse economic results to all of us will be significant. Air service is the lifeline for a vibrant resort community such as ours, and the failure to preserve it could have significant and adverse consequences for all. Recognizing that additional funding sources would be required to stem the loss of seats, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association appointed a task force last winter to address the issue. Its recommendation appears on this year’s ballot as Referendum 2B.
The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is committed to contributing a minimum of $1.1 million each year for the five years the tax is in effect, which is the average of our contributions during the past three years. In addition to being the first money in to pay for the air service, Ski Corp. also will continue to spend millions on marketing to support the air program. We will make additional investments to support air service as we are able to expand into new markets in the next five years. Ski Corp. also will continue to sign the airline contracts and will have ultimate responsibility to make the payments in the event there is ever a funding shortfall.
A great deal of information on the airline program, and on Referendum 2B specifically, has been collected and is available at www.yes2air.com. I urge anyone who has questions about the importance of this initiative to visit the website.
We all have shared in making this community the envy of other mountain towns. By voting “yes” on Referendum 2B, Steamboat Springs will be taking the one step within our control to influence our economic success: first stabilizing, then increasing, the number of direct winter flights into Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
This election, I strongly urge you to vote “yes” on Referendum 2B. It matters to our community and its future.
President and chief operating officer, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.