Our view: Vacationers aren’t the only ones who need better transportation
At issue: An exploratory committee has approached City Council about placing a .2 percent general sales tax in support of airline service before voters in Steamboat Springs in November.
Our view: City Council’s tentative plan to piggy-back a .05 percent tax sales tax for bus service to a proposed .2 percent sales tax for airline service makes sense.
Editorial Board • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Tom Ross, reporter
• Alice Klauzer, community representative
• Cameron Hawkins, community representative
We believe that, just as subsidizing airline flights for the destination vacationers that make our resort economy hum is a critical need, we, as a community, should do more to boost funding for the Steamboat Springs Transit system.
Let’s not forget, it’s the SST buses that provide so many essential resort workers with an economical, sustainable way to get to work, while reducing traffic on our roads.
Those are among the reasons we were encouraged last week, when a majority of City Council members voiced their support for adding a small fraction of new sales tax to a separate taxing initiative being brought forward this month by a committee in support of continuing to build our already robust airline program.
The exploratory campaign committee, Steamboat Citizens to Ensure Air Service, went to City Council May 15 to present its proposal to place a 0.2-percent general sales tax in Steamboat Springs in support of growing the airline program. A 0.2-percent sales tax converts to 20 cents of tax on a purchase of $100.
At least four of the seven city council members made statements indicating enthusiasm for adding an additional 0.05 percent to the potential tax question to raise about $325,000 for the city’s bus service.
“Obviously, bringing all of those people here has an impact on our transit service. We’re having trouble affording,” the buses. “Why wouldn’t it make sense to have a 0.25-percent tax and send the extra money to Steamboat Springs Transit?” City Council President Jason Lacy asked.
At least three other council members also indicated their support of the concept. And while it’s premature for us to endorse either the new tax in general, or the addition of the bus tax, we are intrigued with the idea.
The new tax follows a previous 0.25-percent airline tax, which was approved by 61 percent of voters in 2011 for a period of five years. We have substantial respect for the decision made by the LMD Board in 2016 to allow the tax to sunset and not seek its renewal.
Now, the resort community is hoping to reap the benefits of that trust.
On Friday, Mark Walker, who’s heading up the exploratory committee, reported back to the Local Marketing District board, which is empowered by City Council to work with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. executives to shape the robust winter airline program as well as the much smaller summer program. He said a majority of City Council spoke up “pretty aggressively” in favor of the additional 0.05 cents of tax to support the transit buses.
He added Citizens to Ensure Air Service had not had time to meet and regroup since Tuesday’s council meeting.
We think anyone who has stepped onto the Orange Line SST bus at the Gondola Transit Center at 4 p.m. on a winter day to ride the bus for the full trip past Walton Pond Apartments, to hotel row on South Lincoln Avenue/U.S. Highway 40, then Shadow Run, on the way back to Steamboat Ski Area, would understand how many resort employees and vacationing families of modest means rely on the bus to get to work and play. It’s a system we think is deserving of support.
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Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021