City Council narrowly approves PR effort for air service program
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night narrowly approved spending $25,000 on a public relations and outreach effort for the commercial airline program at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in a 4-3 vote.
The initial request from the stewards of the air service program was controversial when it landed in council chambers last year, and the former council cut the $50,000 request in half.
The goal of the PR effort is to better inform the public about how sales tax dollars have been used to support the airline program and to outline the impact of that program in an annual report.
The tax is set to expire at the end of this year, and the Local Marketing District decided not to pursue the renewal of the tax.
According to the spending plan, the LMD will engage a PR firm at a cost of $15,000 at a rate of $100 per hour.
A graphic designer will be paid $2,500, and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association will be paid $3,000 for managing the outreach effort.
An impact report will be produced.
The outreach effort will be paid for by sales tax revenue.
Councilman Scott Ford, who opposed the spending request, compared the expense to paying for a new car brochure for a car the community already had purchased.
He felt the money could be better spent elsewhere.
“I don’t think we need a glossy brochure or a wrap in the newspaper, when we could easily come up with a Powerpoint with this information,” he said. “I could see this money used to bolster minimum revenue guarantees or marketing outreach” for flights, he said. “Where is the biggest bang for your buck? Teaching us that this is a great program, or getting more people to come here?”
Councilwomen Kathi Meyer and Heather Sloop joined Ford in opposing the public outreach and marketing campaign.
“I think $25,000 is a lot of money,” Meyer said.
Council members Tony Connell, Robin Crossan, Jason Lacy and Walter Magill thought it would be beneficial to have the public learn more about the impact of the sales tax and the airline program.
“Almost all nonprofits in the community present some kind of annual report,” Connell said, adding it contributed to accountability and transparency.
Crossan said she would always support marketing in our community.
“This is the right time for getting this information out,” she said.
The council members made it clear they wanted the outreach effort to be more of an annual report that included useful statistics and data.
Lacy also noted that there are currently more than $7 million in taxpayer funds still in the airline program, and it would benefit the community to learn more about what that money will be used for.
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