Tom Kern: A real impact | SteamboatToday.com

Tom Kern: A real impact

Although I have lived in Steamboat Springs for only 30 days as a full-time resident, I have been coming here since 1973. Those first trips always required a layover in Denver or a post-flight three-hour drive. Beginning in the late '80s, I started flying direct into Hayden. During the last 25 years, my family has been a direct beneficiary of the winter air service program.

In September, I started at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and learned that the community was working on a program to regain lost air service. I immediately became involved. As a former visitor, I know how important this service is to our winter guests, and now as a resident, I know how important it is to our local economy.

The 0.25 percent increase in sales tax that Referendum 2B proposes is a small price to pay for the benefit it provides our community.

Here are some facts for you to consider regarding this program.

■ The proposed 0.25 percent sales tax increase means you will pay 25 cents additional tax on each $100 of goods or services purchased. In a typical year, an individual will pay an additional $15 to $20.

■ Approximately 50 percent of all city sales tax revenues are generated by visitors. Fifty percent of this new tax also will be paid by visitors.

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■ Each winter visitor who flies directly into our community spends approximately $1,100 while in town. Of that $1,100, approximately $860 is spent locally on goods and services. That $860 also generates $72 in sales tax that supports the community services we all desire.

■ The number of seats in our air service program has decreased from 160,000 during the 2007-08 ski season to 120,000 seats in 2010-11 ski season. The loss of 40,000 seats equates to a loss of roughly $44 million to our local economy. The proposed air service program will get our airline seat count back to approximately 150,000 in the next five years. Those new seats mean new economic activity for our community, which means more jobs for our residents.

■ The proposed air service program requests public support for a five-year period, at which time the tax will sunset.

The economic impact on Steamboat Springs and the convenience of direct air service for our winter visitors are indisputable. I know that personally from being one of those visitors, and I know it now from being a full-time resident.

I urge you to support Referendum 2B in this election.

Tom Kern

Chief executive officer, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association

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