Our View: Vote ‘yes’ on 2A
September 25, 2018
Steamboat Springs voters will be deciding on a 0.20 percent sales tax for air service this fall, and we hope the measure flies.
The tax, if approved, will fund the airline program, which we believe has been a success and is the envy of other mountain communities. The program has greatly increased the number of flights coming in and out of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.
For the 2018-19 winter season, there are approximately 124,000 round-trip available seats out of Hayden, which is more than double what it was before voters first approved a sales tax for air service in 2011 by a 61 percent majority. This winter, the airport will be served by 15 nonstop flights, including three new direct flights from Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Long Beach through JetBlue.
At a glance
At issue: Steamboat voters are being asked to approve a 0.20 percent sales tax to support winter and summer flights into Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
Our View: Vote 'yes' on 2A to fund Steamboat's successful airline program, which bolsters tourism and supports the local economy.
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@
The Local Marketing District board, which oversees the tax, made the decision to allow the original tax to sunset in 2016 due to sizable reserves. We supported that decision, and we believe it served to help build community trust in the airline program. The fact that there's no organized opposition to the new tax proposal further supports the wisdom of the board's decision.
After two years without a tax, reserves are now depleted, so the LMD board decided it was time to place the tax back before voters in November. This time around, the tax is 0.05 percent lower than the original 0.25 percent sales tax, and it is being proposed with a 10-year, rather than five-year, sunset.
Citizens to Ensure Air Service, the committee working to promote the tax, claims the air program provides an avenue to bring high-dollar visitors to town. Those highly desirable visitors spend, on average, $1,345 per person per visit, and 87 percent of winter visitors say a direct flight into Hayden is extremely important when they're making their travel plans.
The money they spent in Steamboat generates sales tax dollars that support city services and local jobs and impact a cross-section of the community. Specifically, it is estimated that 4,400 jobs in Routt County are directly related to tourism.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. also contributes to the airline program, and under this iteration of the plan, Ski Corp. will be contributing $1.6 million annually to the program, which is an increase of 45 percent over previous years. The ski mountain obviously benefits from a strong air program, and so it only seems fair that Ski Corp. is upping its investment.
It also should be noted the airline tax doesn't just benefit out-of-town visitors and the resort community. A healthy airline program also serves our location-neutral workers who can work anywhere but choose to call Steamboat home, and other local residents, including second homeowners, who like the convenience of flying in and out of an airport that's only 25 minutes from home.
A 0.20 percent sales tax translates to 20 cents on every $100 spent in the city, which will generate $1.3 million annually for the airline program. We encourage Steamboat residents to vote 'yes' on 2A. We believe the tax is a small price to pay for a program that fuels tourism and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy each year, which benefits us all.