Scott Ford: No way is 2A fair to all concerned
October 25, 2018
The citizens of Steamboat Springs are being asked to increase city sales tax from 4.5 percent to 4.7 percent to subsidize air service into the Yampa Valley. Air service is important to the economy and the need to subsidize selected direct flights is necessary.
However, requesting additional funding by asking for an increase in the sales tax paid by every household in the Steamboat area is seriously misguided. Therefore, it will be important for Steamboat citizens to vote “no” to Referendum 2A — Yes2Air.
The proposed increase in sales tax will cost the average family in Steamboat about $65 annually for the next 10 years. This is what the Yes2Air campaign characterizes as each Steamboat family's fair share necessary to subsidize the air program. This is baloney.
Visitors currently pay a 2 percent lodging tax for air service subsidy. Although collected by lodging, this tax is only a pass through to the Local Marketing District. The lodging community is paying nothing out of their own pockets beyond the sales tax they pay associated with the operational expenses of their business.
The ski company also pays sales tax on similar expenses plus they are currently paying $1.1 million from their own pocket to support the air program. Where's the lodging industry's similar fair share on what is clearly a marketing expense they benefit the most from?
Good tax policy is grounded in the fundamental understanding that those who benefit the most ought to pay the most. The average winter visitor spends $1,345 during their stay. Of that amount, 44 percent is spent on lodging and 24 percent with the ski company. Why are the businesses that receive almost 70 percent from every visitor dollar asking Steamboat locals for money to help them?
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Saying “no” to having every Steamboat area household subsidize the air program through an increase in sales tax does not mean the end of air service into the Yampa Valley. Voting “no” will encourage the parties that get almost 70 percent of the visitor dollars back to the drawing board to find another funding source. They do not need to come to the Steamboat locals for this funding.
Vote “no” on Referendum 2A.
Scott L. Ford
Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not reflect those of my fellow members.