Michelle Krasilinec: Vote ‘Yes’ on 2B to Regain Seats, Secure Our Economy
October 21, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Election season is in full swing, and residents are being asked to think about how tourism affects their lives and what having visitors in town stimulating the local economy is worth to them. At issue is Referendum 2B, the proposed 0.25 percent sales tax to fund nonstop winter air service into Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
As community members, we all rely on tourism. Referendum 2B is tied directly to the quality of life we all enjoy here in Steamboat Springs. Every sector of our economy benefits. It is for these reasons that the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board of directors voted unanimously in support of Referendum 2B.
Here are some facts to consider about this program:
■ Each winter visitor who flies directly into the Yampa Valley Regional Airport spends about $1,100 while in town. Of that $1,100, about $860 generates $72 in sales tax that supports the community services we all desire.
■ The number of seats in the air program has decreased almost 30 percent from 163,000 during the 2007-08 winter season to 118,000 in the 2010-11 season while revenue guarantees for airlines have increased.
The loss of 45,000 seats equates to a loss of about 31,000 passengers and $35 million to our local economy. The proposed air program will get airline seats back to about 150,000 in the next five years. Those regained seats mean renewed economic activity for our community, which means more jobs for our residents.
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■ Every 9,200 passengers generate 100 new jobs in the community.
■ Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. will continue to commit as much as $1.1 million per year to the program, and its funding will be first in. Ski Corp. also will continue to spend millions marketing and promoting the flights, our resort and our community.
■ The 2 percent lodging tax will continue to support the air program on top of the 1 percent accommodations tax that goes to support our recreation district.
■ About 50 percent of all city sales tax revenues are generated by visitors, and half of this new tax will be paid by visitors.
■ The proposed 0.25 percent sales tax increase means you will pay 25 cents additional tax on each $100 of goods purchased. In a typical year, an individual will pay an additional $15 to $20.
■ The Referendum 2B tax increase is for a five-year period, after which the tax will expire.
"We can't control the world economy, but we can control our own destiny here in Steamboat," said Loui Antonucci, chairman of Steamboat Citizens to Regain Seats & Restore Our Economy, the committee leading the charge to vote "yes" on 2B.
Steamboat businesses benefit from the air program directly and indirectly. Below are some examples of how businesses and the community benefit:
■ Through continued sales tax revenues provided by visitors, the city is able to fund the majority of the services utilized by the community.
■ Retail merchants, their employees and their service contractors benefit from the visitors.
■ Those who travel will continue to enjoy direct flights outbound from Steamboat Springs to major cities throughout the country.
■ Steamboat Springs remains accessible for second-homeowners who utilize the air program.
■ Service providers such as taxi and ski rental companies, travel agencies and their employees benefit from visitors.
■ Restaurants, entertainment venues and their employees benefit from visitors.
■ The public will benefit by continuing to have an air program as part of its economic business model. Loss of the air program will have the gravest of consequences to Steamboat's economic health and quality of life.
One common misconception is that the sales tax revenues are going directly to Ski Corp. Sales tax revenues will be held by the city of Steamboat Springs, not Ski Corp. Funds will be managed by the Local Marketing District, which is a public entity. This is not giving money to a corporation; this is investing in our community and its future.
This campaign has been a grass-roots effort with many hours logged distributing print material and meeting with community members to educate them about the air program and the proposed 0.25 percent sales tax. The economic impact on Steamboat and the convenience of direct air service for our winter visitors are indisputable. We ask for your support by voting "yes" on Referendum 2B.