Killington considers local option tax
03/03/08 5:50PM By Nina Keck
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(Host) Killington residents will vote tomorrow on whether or not to create a 1% local option tax on rooms and meals, sales and alcohol.
believe it will raise funds vital for economic development.
But as VPR's Nina Keck reports, critics - including Killington ski resort - say the tax is misguided.
(Keck) Many in Killington say more needs to be done to make the region a year round destination. Steve Malone is a local real estate developer.
(Malone) "I think that if the town is going to be viable, they need to have some funding mechanism to bring in more people and not just rely on skier visits. We need to have a summer business we need to have a spring and a fall business. And that takes money and it takes infrastructure."
(Keck) The funding mechanism he's talking about, a 1% local option tax - could raise over $600,000 a year. That's money town officials want set aside for a new department of economic development, complete with an events planner and coordinator. But not everyone agrees that a new tax is the best way to go about it.
(Rathbun) "When you look at the option tax - the biggest thing we have a problem with is inefficiency.
(Keck) Dave Rathbun is director of Sales and Marketing for Killington resort. Because the state collects the tax, Montpelier keeps 30%. That's too much, says Rathbun. And he says once in place, who's to say future select board members won't redirect how the money is spent.
(Rathbun) "We proposed, if the option tax were defeated on Tuesday, that Killington resort would donate $250,000 immediately to the Killington Chamber of Commerce."
(Keck) Rathbun says Powder Inc, the company that owns Killington resort, would make additional contributions to the Chamber on the condition that town restaurants, bars and hotels pitch in matching funds with a 1% voluntary surcharge. Jim Blackman is a local select board member.
(Blackman) "The first negative thing about that particular offer is that if the other businesses in this voluntary tax don't contribute a certain amount that Powder doesn't have to continue with its $200,000. Therefore the thing goes away."
(Keck) Blackman says the town sees their development plans as a 10 to 20 year undertaking and long term, sustainable funding is critical. Voters decide tomorrow.
For VPR News, I'm Nina Keck in Killington.