sodacreekpizza 5 years, 7 months ago on Tom Ross: Pump back plan puts pressure on Yampa

Scott, I am pretty sure "water rights" as generally discussed are a State issue.. i.e. Colorado water law or Arizona water law. The state regulations in each state about passing property lines do not have anything to with the Compact.

You are right about the politics though.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 7 months ago on Tom Ross: Pump back plan puts pressure on Yampa

Aside from the merits of the pump back idea (which I think stinks) the issues you bring up, Tom, are interesting; especially the Compact. There are conflicting expectations in the compact, the lower basin states may state they are entitled to 7.5 million acre feet, but weren't the shares defined similarly for all the states named in the compact? Aren't those shares the basis for the principle of "downstream storage" claimed by some upper basin states which says that to the extent that the upper basis states allow some of "their" water to flow past their borders, that amount of water in lake powell still belongs to them and in the future they can withhold more than their "share as an offset? Or is there something in the Compact that states the upper basin must forgo thier share as defined in the Compact to provide 7.5 million A.F. to the lower basin?

All in all, the shares defined in the compact for the states exceed the average flows of the river due to a fundamental mistake make at the beginning with regard to the estimate of the annual flows. (estimate was based on only two years of data and the two years were high water years). Up until this point, the upper basin states have never used their full share, allowing it to flow downstream which has in turn allowed the lower basis states, especially California, to use more than their shares. As the upper basis develops and uses more of their share this will bring the issue of the fundamental shortfall of the average flows to a head at some point.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 7 months ago on Steamboat chamber CEO Kern focuses on marketing efforts

Aside from the merits of the main topic of discussion, perhaps some additional comments on the vendor fee might be helpful:

  1. Sales taxes are owed by the consumer on the goods they purchase. They are collected and remitted by the business that sells the goods, but it is clearly stated in law that the tax is owed and paid by the consumer. Therefore the business is acting as an agent for the taxing entity. This is why purchases by a tax exempt organization such as schools, churches etc are not subject to the tax. If the tax was owed by the business, it would not matter who purchased the goods as is the case with income tax earned from those sales.
  2. Like other public money collected by private enterprises such as hunting and fishing licenses, there is often a nominal fee paid to the business to offset the costs associated with collecting, recording and remitting the funds. These costs are book keeping (paying an accountant or book keeper to track the sales and accurately remit the taxes) and transaction costs.
  3. The transaction costs are by far the larger part of the cost picture. In today's world, in many businesses credit and debit cards are used for the overwhelming majority of transactions. They are no longer an "optional" means of payment; they are the consumers preferred means and therefore mandatory for most businesses in this community who collect and remit taxes.
  4. A local business doing 1 million in annual sales probably does 50% to 100% of those sales by credit/debit card. (For my businesses the amounts are 58% and 96%) For the sake of this example let's say 80% is the average. On a sale where a credit card is used, the sales taxes will also be paid by credit card. On sales of 1 million with 80% using a card, the credit card fees on the city sales taxes will be about $1000.
  5. i.e. the business is out of pocket these costs plus the costs of book keeping and the banking costs associated with making the remittance all to collect and remit a tax that is owed by someone else. (Exception: somehow the car dealers got around this and consumers pay the tax directly upon registration) Most businesses with tell you these costs significantly exceed the 3.3% being discussed.

When this deal was made 30ish years ago, the businesses gave up something real in order to get the summer marketing program funded with a handshake deal that the city would use those funds for a specific purpose. They now absorb costs of doing the cities work that used to be covered. It is unfortunate in hindsight that the details of this deal were not chiseled on stone tablets, but that does not change the facts about the deal that was made.

BTW Scott, I like the shotgun and rifle analogy.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 7 months ago on Steamboat chamber CEO Kern focuses on marketing efforts

Tom is an interesting and accomplished manager with experience in both government and chamber leadership positions. He has a track record of finding the common ground between communities, regions and the business community. I look forward to his contribution in his new role.

Scott, you state that the chart " indicates no appreciable evidence that the amount spent on marketing correlates to summer sales tax". hmmm In the first 16 years of the marketing contribution the amount of sales taxes collected nearly tripled. During those years the average contribution was 4.8%. Since that period, contributions have declined both in real dollars and in % of tax collected (29% decline as a % comparing the average for the first 16 years to the most recent 8) and sales taxes have declined. Pretty good correlation I would say.

Of course, these tax figures are annual not just Summer and many other factors are involved. With other influences such as the economy, forest fires, construction cycle and even the weather it is very difficult to draw year by year conclusions in any case. It is also unreasonable to attribute changes in tax revenue to Summer marketing based solely on this chart. It would be interesting to track just the Summer tax receipts over this period and to track it for the areas where marketing should have the greatest influence such as lodging receipts and restaurants (retail is more of a mixed source).

In the end, we exist in a competitive environment. We compete to attract business with other choices that the consumer has both in the experience we can provide and in putting a message about that experience in front of them to attract their attention. In the narrow sense we compete with the choices mentioned in the article (Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Crested Butte). We also compete with other kinds of destinations such as beaches, golf communities, cultural destinations and big cities. We are already under-spending the immediate competitive set.

Years ago there was a discussion about a permanent funding source for Summer marketing. After much dialog a conclusion was reached and a permanent funding source was identified: the vendor fee. Businesses gave up the reimbursement offered for collecting and remitting taxes that offsets the cost of collecting the taxes on behalf of the taxing entity and the city agreed to spend that money on Summer Marketing.

We could use additional funds for this purpose and an exploration of appropriate sources for those funds is warranted but the permanent source already in place should continue.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 7 months ago on Future of downtown Steamboat icon All That Jazz is up in the air

@Scott, satire aside, (and off topic) if you think that airline contributions go to ski corp or are just for the benefit of one business, or that the program is "their airline subsidy" you have an uninformed view of the issue.

The purpose of the air program is not to subsidize the prices for ski packages. The purpose is create the possibility that the airlines come here at all. When the planes are full there is no payment and therefor no subsidy.

The program benefits everyone from P-Burg to Maybell by providing air transport to NW Colorado. In particular, location nuetral businesses benefit, but everyone that wants to come or GO from the Yampa Valley has access to the flights that would not otherwise come here.

Most local businesses also benefit from the air traffic and economic activity it supports. Ski Corp is certainly included. Local businesses are asked to contribute (and Soda Creek Pizza has for the last 12 years) but it is Ski Corp that writes the biggest check; bigger than all the others combined.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 8 months ago on Our View: So long, CSAPs

I agree Scott. The editorial expresses skepticism about both the current test and upcoming change but then seems to support the reasons given for change with arguments that are weak. This editorial is wide of the mark or perhaps just written in a way that makes it seem like the reasons given by the State for a change in testing are the views of the editorial board?

"Ideally, they (test results) also provide a clear picture of where schools need to focus efforts in the classroom." The editorial starts out well with this statement but then wanders out into left field: " the test’s history showed very little overall improvement in student scores throughout time. If student achievement is the same this year as it was when the CSAP first began years ago, what has been gained?"

Isn't it possible that the test actually did exactly what it was supposed to do and the truth is that student achievement in our local districts has not changed?

This section is followed by a statement that includes the following: "Every year was a roller-coaster ride, with little evidence of permanent improvement throughout time in any particular subject area or grade level."

Does the pilot have evidence from another source that "permanent improvement" was in fact taking place and the CSAP missed it?

Student performance is combination of family and community expectations, programs, resources, curriculum, teacher qualifications, class size, facilities and other factors. If you want to change student performance, change some of those things!

No test is perfect and the new one will not be either. But as Scott points out, we WILL get a new baseline. As long as districts are rewarded and "punished" for test results the districts will adapt to teaching for results on that new test.

By all means, change tests. Change is good and, no doubt, the testing can be improved. But when, after a few cycles for the districts to adapt to the new test, the results again settle into a predictable pattern lets talk about changing the quality of the education rather than the yardstick that measures it.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 9 months ago on Our View: Prepare for turbulence

You may find this interesting:

The program for Telluride is 1.5X the size ours is. In this link, the Montrose airport (Telluride traffic runs through Montrose) is considering many of the same issues.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 9 months ago on Our View: Prepare for turbulence

Lewi, I have been paying attention to (and contributing to) the program for more than a decade. The guarantee is a revenue guarantee not a passenger count. If the fares are high enough the plane could fly half full and not trigger a payment. Conversely, if the fares are low enough, the plane could fly full and still fall short of minimum revenue and thus require a payment. In the past, there has been a constructive dialog about promotional fares to drive load factors and thus local revenue. The airlines have been good partners in this regard.

Scott, if you dig into the numbers, you will find that the airline subsidies for Eagle are several times what we pay here thanks to the participation of the entire Vail Valley and Aspen. (Aspen's airport is too unreliable, so most commercial air passengers for Aspen fly into Eagle) They have a different funding mechanism, but the funds they pay are much greater than what we are paying.... thus.... more seats.

We have encountered a perfect storm... lower demand for seats which raises the expense at the same time that revenues to pay for them is down. As things improve, both the load factors AND the revenue will increase. Thanks to the boom times of 2006, 2007, and into 2008 there was a surplus as we entered the recession. We have now burned most of that up... but that is why we had a reserve.

This program does benefit businesses indirectly, just as it indirectly benefits anyone who earns a paycheck in this town in almost any position. It is also a HUGE benefit to the local economy as air connections are crucial aspect of making Steamboat a viable location neutral address.

Regarding empty seats, it would be a wonderful thing if they were all full, but the nature of our visitor business means that there will NEVER be the same demand for seats the third week of January that there is over the Holidays or in Mid March. If we want the airline to commit an aircraft of a certain size to the route, we have to make that math problem work for the season. It is not practical for them to put a 250 seat aircraft on the run for the big weeks and ratchet down to a regional jet with 70 seats for the off weeks which is the only thing that would bring the load factors up for the whole season.

This is not about subsidizing empty seats. It is about having enough seats to take advantage of demand when it exists while not breaking the bank when things are slower. A complex puzzle to be sure.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 10 months ago on Dan Pichiotino: Bike problems?

Sled, wake up and smell the coffee... most of us that ride bikes also own cars and pay those taxes too. On the days I ride my bike to work, I do not use up any parking, I put less wear and tear on the road, have less impact on the air we breath.... and I get to lose some weight too! All in all a good deal... and guess what, the plates on my car stayed the same price.

"Pretending not to see the reality" is something that exists on both sides of most issues. This one is no exception.

YVB, I can assure you; I pay my way.


sodacreekpizza 5 years, 10 months ago on Dan Pichiotino: Bike problems?

Where does this view that cyclists don't pay taxes come from? The "special lanes and trails" in Steamboat do not come from motor vehicle taxes. They are paid for from the city budget which is funded by the same tax mechanisms that fund everything else. This means that the money that pays for them is the same money that plows the roads for motor vehicles.

We all contribute to it.

Interesting that after stating that cyclists don't contribute to the taxes that plow the roads and paint bike lanes , skypilot then in the same post postulates that they live in 4000 square foot homes. My guess is that the occupants of 4000 homes contribute more local taxes than the average resident.... ergo, they pay more than thier "share" for both plowing and bike lane painting.

We all contribute to it!