City Council denies 100K request for group sales program
April 8, 2016
The Steamboat Springs City Council likes the idea of trying to lure more group conferences and events to the city.
But it told the Steamboat Chamber Resort Association on Tuesday it won’t foot the bill for the entire program.
"The city can’t be the only partner, and there’s gotta be a better way to fund it," Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said Tuesday as the council weighed a $100,000 request from the Chamber to fund the program. "Shouldn’t this (group sales) position be funded by all the groups who benefit? If the Chamber truly believes this will be good for business, there should be a lot of skin in the game from a lot of entities."
Some council members suggested they would be more willing to fund only part of the program.
They were concerned that, if the city took on the entire cost, the funding would be the first thing the council would decide to cut if sales tax revenue took a downturn.
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Councilman Scott Ford also compared the city funding the program to a "misaligned tax," in which those who would benefit the most wouldn’t be paying for the bulk of the program.
"Taxes work the best when those who benefit the most pay the most," Ford said, noting it would be the general city sales tax payer supporting the group sales program, not lodging visitors.
Chamber CEO Jim Clark said the new group sales program would aim to reduce the “peaks and valleys” of the visitor seasons and attract more groups, such as the Mustang Roundup, which fills hotels and brings visitors to downtown Steamboat every year.
The Chamber launched a group sales effort in 2014 but ended it after it was unsuccessful.
"So I think this is a really great idea," Councilman Jason Lacy said of the new proposal that would hire a person dedicated to the local effort. "This is something we need as a community. I think it could make a big impact. My main concern with this is how we fund it? The last thing I would want to happen is we start funding this, and (in) a year or two, we hit that recession, and all that money goes away."
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