Andrew Heppelmann: Taxpayers deserve accountability on 2A
I agree with many that air service is an important component to our economy and probably deserves some discerning support. But my quarrel is with the scope, execution, purpose, methodology and end state of this effort.
What this boils down to is that we’re in business with the Local Marketing District and the mountain. Our annual investment is the $1.2 million at issue in 2A. When we signed up for the previous iteration of this tax, we were told the deliverable was 140,000 flying visitors per year.
Now, we’re being asked for another tranche of money, without any discussion of how the previous money was spent. No explanation, no accountability. As a business partner and taxpayer, I have some questions before I throw more money at this idea.
What happened to the previous promise of 140,000 visitors? You fell decidedly short of the number. Can you explain?
What is the deliverable for the next 10 years? How confident are you that you will make your goal? What are your metrics?
How can there be any oversight watching out for the taxpayers when the LMD meets in executive session to discuss all of the key topics of running an airline program?
Why are you funding this effort with a regressive tax?
Why didn’t you increase the size of the LMD to capture the VRBO segment? I don’t suppose this would fill the void, but it would certainly be a start and far more palatable tham taxing the food of our struggling neighbors. Are you saying you could think of no other way to pay for this?
I suppose you support performing and non-performing routes. Using last year’s data, if 2A doesn’t pass, how many of the 14 routes could be supported with the LMD and ,ountain contribution? And assuming you got rid of the worst performing/most expensive routes, exactly how many visitors would have been lost?
Will and can it ever end? Will supporters promise to use this to build a sustainable flight program that won’t need more taxpayer money in 10 years? The history is that one year’s successes of higher load factors resulting in money being returned to the LMD is wasted the next year by buying flights that lose lots of money.
These are fair questions between business partners. Until we get acceptable answers, I urge you to vote “no” on 2A.
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