By Mike Solimano, president and GM of Killington Resort/Pico Mountain
Since I first proposed repealing the sales portion of the 1 percent option tax last fall, I have had countless positive, encouraging conversations with local officials, residents and business owners about how this measure is important for us all. There has also been much debate regarding the best means to bring about the policy changes the resort needs to properly invest in significant new infrastructure.
In addition to my many productive conversations, I have also listened to many local residents and business owners as they expressed concerns about the ultimate impacts of the repeal. I understand these concerns so I have decided the resort should delay asking the Selectmen to put the 1 percent option tax repeal on the ballot for this March’s Town Meeting Day.
While I do not agree with every objection or doubt raised, taking more time to fully explain the resort’s plan to the community is in everyone’s best interest. We will look ahead to next fall or the following Town Meeting Day to address the option tax. This time allows us to share information with all parties involved, begin phase two of our summer growth plan with expanded mountain bike operations and new on-site attractions and let the Killington Pico Area Association (KPAA) start to gain traction.
The KPAA is a critical piece of the overhaul plan, and we want to give the organization time to prove itself by clarifying its mission and demonstrating an ability to support marketing efforts of the town and region. The only way to properly do this is to give the KPAA time to establish a working system of governance. A strong and vibrant KPAA will help the community define its summer marketing agenda.
We are already seeding the future of the KPAA with our extended Merchant Pass program, and have attracted participating businesses as far away as Rutland and Quechee. To date we have sold over 300 passes (with over 50 purchased from the extended region), and we still have one meeting remaining where we anticipate selling many more.
To encourage participation, we have lifted all restrictions on Merchant Passes for the second year in a row, which means unlimited access to Killington and Pico every day of the season. The resort’s contributions from sales of Merchant Passes provide the KPAA with critical baseline funding, and we are pleased with the current pace of program growth.
Killington Resort still views tax modification as an essential component of successful summer growth, but we will not push ahead without the support of our community. The trust between the town of Killington, its residents and the resort is essential to our continued success and the growth we all desire.