By Polly Mikula
KILLINGTON — On Sunday, July 1, Killington businesses will no longer be obligated to collect a 1 percent option tax on sales, ending a 10-year local tax.
Killington is first and only town in the state to rescind a local option tax, Doug Farnham, policy director for the state department of taxes confirmed, Tuesday, June 26. “If businesses accidentally collect the tax after July 1, they should absolutely remit it to the state, unless it can be refunded to the customer,” Farnham advised. Customers who pay the sales portion of the option tax in Killington after July 1 can request a refund directly through the state tax department, he explained.
The 1 percent option taxes on sales (as well as on room, meals and alcohol) were adopted in Killington in 2008.
Rescinding the local option sales tax passed by 9 votes on Town Meeting Day in March 2017, by a vote of 203 to 194. It will go into effect July 1. (The 1 percent local option tax on rooms, meals and alcohol will continue and was not part of the vote). Rescinding the sales portion of the local option tax was strongly supported by Killington Resort and the Killington Pico Area Association (KPAA), which actively spread information to help voters understand the benefits of rescinding the tax.
Mike Solimano, Killington Resort president and general manager, told the Select Board that the resort paid $3.9 million in local option taxes from 2008-2014 — $1.3 million for the rooms and meals portion of the tax and $2.6 million in the sales and use portion.
The average Killington resident paid approximately $50 in sales option taxes per year, according to former Town Manager Seth Webb.
As with all local option taxes, the state keeps 30 percent of the money collected with 70 percent being returned to the town. To make up for the approximate $450,000 deficit in the town’s general fund, the plan was for many of the town’s events and marketing responsibilities to be transferred to the KPAA with the resort helping produce those events and marketing them as well as invest in its own summer tourism infrastructure and events with the money it will save from this tax being rescinded.
KPAA Director Mike Coppinger, who took over that position seven months ago (well after the vote was passed), said the resort and KPAA have split responsibilities for running events formerly produced or sponsored by the town. “I’d say it’s about an 80/20 split with the resort taking on 80 percent of the events,” he said. “The KPAA will continue to run the Wine Festival and Holiday Festival and help recruit volunteers for other events,” Coppinger said.
“We are not receiving any extra funding from the town or the resort,” he continued. “We’re a self-sustaining organization that operates based on member dues and sponsorships, primarily.”
Rob Megnin, director of sales and marketing for Killington Resort, confirmed the same. “We’ve taken it all on: the Stage Race, AJGA, Cooler in the Mountains, Downhill Throwdown, and many more,” he said. “If you look at our events schedule this summer, you’ll see just how much it’s grown… additionally we’ve had to hire more staff to manage these events.”
“We’re looking to the summer for growth,” Megnin continued. “That’s our commitment.”