Top three reasons to consider
I am writing in support of the 1 percent local option sales tax, a tax I did not initially support years ago when first proposed, but one that I now find necessary and worthwhile. I am generally in favor of reduced taxes sent to Washington or Montpelier due to what I see as wasteful spending on programs and policies that are poorly though out and badly implemented, and I recognize that 30 percent of the option tax is sent to Montpelier rather than remaining here in Killington, but I also see the benefits of this tax for our town and region. I support continuation of this tax for three essential reasons.
First and foremost, the revenue from this tax encourages (if not forces) the town and Killington Resort to work together for the common good. We don’t have to go too far back in time to see the resort seemingly operating at cross purposes to the town’s needs, the time that began with Powdr’s purchase of Killington Resort and before Mike Solimano took over resort leadership. Solimano has done an outstanding job of correcting the errors of his predecessor and promoting the concept of “One Killington,” of that there is no doubt. Working with the town, KPAA and the Killington region as a whole, we see everyone pulling in the same direction, working for the benefit of all. Unfortunately, Solimano works for a company based 2,000 miles away, with interests that are not always aligned with our town and region—a privately-owned company whose focus may shift without any public influences.
Also to be kept in mind is the fact that Solimano will not be here forever, whether moving to another Powdr resort or taking a job outside the company. Either way, a successor may not be as committed to regional efforts and local cooperative goals. Keeping a revenue source that requires the resort and the town to work together to effectively spend tax revenue generated by and for tourism is the only way to ensure cooperation regardless of who might be at the helm.
Secondly, while KPAA does a good job of representing its business owners’ interests and working in tandem with the resort to promote activities and tourism, not all businesses in town are KPAA members. Those non-members get a “free ride” by enjoying the benefits of KPAA efforts without putting their own funds into the mix. Clearly, those businesses are taking unfair advantage of the voluntary nature of KPAA membership. One could also envision several bad business years in a row where businesses suffer and members drop out. Even the resort is not immune to those kinds of business pressures and KPAA membership could dwindle or even come apart as a result. With the town dependent upon tourism, it is preferable to trust future tourism investment on mandatory taxation rather than voluntary contributions.
Third, and finally, we hope to soon see the start of construction of a resort village, a 20-year construction effort that we anticipate will bring new vibrancy to the resort and the town. That village and its construction will, however, potentially strain existing services and force additional tax dollars to be spent. We may need to expand our police department and/or convert our volunteer fire department to a full-time force. We will certainly see road damage caused by heavy construction traffic over the 20 years of village development. By maintaining the 1 percent sales tax, the town will have the incremental revenues generated by the project to pay for those increased needs.
For these reasons and more, I support continuation of the 1 percent local option sales tax and hope that most Killington residents will agree.
Art Malatzky, Killington