Lauren Dobell: It’s time for a lift tax |

Lauren Dobell: It’s time for a lift tax

I have been following with interest the Steamboat Springs City Council’s ideas to raise more revenue. The latest is a property tax to fund trail maintenance for the flurry of recently constructed trails.

I believe this would be an unfair tax. Instead, we need to free up other money in the budget to pay for this maintenance and other items.

The time is now for Steamboat to have a lift tax on ski tickets; this tax is long overdue. Vail has had a 4 percent tax on their lift tickets for 50 years, and this tax has helped pay for transportation, parking and infrastructure.

The Vail tax has generated more than $200 million for the town of Vail.  Breckenridge has had a 4.5 percent tax for two years and have already collected more than $7 million. The ski areas in Utah have taxed their lift tickets for decades. The town of Vail notified Vail Resorts last July to inform them it may be necessary to raise the tax from 4 percent to 8 percent for future parking, infrastructure and transportation.  

The tax will not raise the cost of the lift tickets because Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has already priced their tickets at the highest rate the market will bear. They recently raised the senior pass 40 percent in a two-year period; other age groups were treated with more respect.  It appears the ski area is attempting to ban the majority of ‘seniors’ from the mountain by making the price of a season pass unobtainable for those living on a fixed income. 

Vail, Breckenridge and other ski areas with a lift ticket tax have continued to generously support local charities, United Way, the arts, youth groups and many other nonprofits. They are generous in addition to the lift tax because they understand the town cannot “go it alone.”

The tax gives the town a small share of the huge wealth the ski areas generates through lift ticket sales. This tax revenue goes toward transportation, parking and infrastructure.

Steamboat needs to do the same. We cannot continue to “go it alone.” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. needs to pay their share of these cost.

The free buses currently cost the city of Steamboat $3,500,000 per year to run and operate, and no one benefits more than the ski area from this service. The ski area causes gridlock on our roads, parking problems from the ski area to the Central Park Plaza parking lot, Old Town and everywhere in between. They need to help pay for the cost of services provided to them.

Let’s step forward and put into place the same tax the town of Vail has enjoyed for 50 years. I feel a 6 percent lift tax would be a fair and reasonable.

The tax revenue may go 70 percent to transportation, a.k.a. the free bus, which the ski company is the principal beneficiary of, and 30 percent to parking and infrastructure. At the very least, a 4.5 percent lift ticket tax is necessary for our city to survive.

I hope City Council will support a lift tax because it is fair and makes sense. The Steamboat Ski Corp. has gotten a free ride for 50 years, and it is now time for them to proudly support a tax on their lift tickets. 

Lauren Dobell

Steamboat Springs

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