KILLINGTON-Town Manager Seth Webb recently proposed
a refined budget for the
town's Economic Development & Tourism investments,
one that allocates less than half of the 2011 figure to events and
marketing ($665,000 in 2011 compared with $240,630 proposed for
A golf debt payment of more than $500,000, and other investments
like a town gateway, Killington Road beautification, and water
study, increases the total proposed spending on economic
development in 2013 to nearly $1 million.
Goals for increased tourism during the off-seasons have changed
in the last two years, as town officials focused more on reducing
debt on what it now calls Killington's largest
economic investment - Green Mountain National Golf
The course is saddled with more than $5 million of debt,
which began during its purchase and construction nearly
two decades ago.
Just last year, the town's three-man selectboard
began significantly paying down loans and interest on the
course at an annual payment of about $600,000 through
2015 after-which the annual payments will decrease to less than
$400,000 a year through 2025.
But with that move came more emphasis on how the town uses what
has proved to be a significant revenue source - the 1 percent local
option tax on sales, meals, rooms and entertainment, established in
The town's EDT department was established shortly after the
tax went into effect to use the source of cash flow to foster
new economic development for the town; an additional effort to
what the resort does and focused on more than just the winter
According to state tax officials at the time, Killington was
the only town in Vermont to designate the money to be used for
one sole purpose - boosting summer business.
Today, the town's EDT department is tasked with using less of
the 1 percent option tax because of the golf course and other town
obligations. Some business owners have even proposed doing away
with the tax altogether because already-strained businesses have to
pay it and the state of Vermont taxes a third of the revenue
generated from it.
In contrast, the EDT department, headed by Webb for the majority
of its existence, has strengthened relations with Killington Resort
and helped more businesses on Killington Road stay open in the
summer, when before the local options tax they were closed,
according to resort and town officials.
For 2013, Webb proposed using $288,700 out of the town's General
Fund budget for Events and Marketing, during a presentation Dec.
However, according to draft budget plans for 2013, economic
development functions are also spread throughout the budgets of
other departments, like recreation, as the Board and Manager
believe Economic Development is a mission of the
Webb started his presentation stating "the EDT
commission and local businesses believe there should be a
continued focus on the year-round economy, and that strategy of
relying on 4-5 months on winter/skiing alone will not help us grow
our year-round population, increase the number of students in
school, increase real estate sales and create year-round employment
He also referenced a new study from the University of New
Hampshire reporting the country's $12.2 billion winter tourism
industry lost $1 billion over the last decade,
and 27,000 jobs, due to a warmer climate.
Webb's budget for next year includes reduced administrative
costs (down 75 percent since 2010) and according to Webb,
does more with less, including eliminating redundancies between the
resort, the EDT and the area Chamber of Commerce.
The Dew Tour is not coming back to Killington, funding for
Restaurant Week was reduced by $1,000, the Stage Race was cut
by $5,000 and new event development was trimmed by $5,500.
Golf marketing was cut by more than $15,000, wedding and
honeymoon marketing was cut by $15,000 and a total of $7,000
was cut from trade shows and travel and expenses for marketing.
Added is $4,000 for the Amateur Junior Golf
Association tournament, $4,000 for a new Corporate Walk
in 2013 and $4,500 for a youth soccer tournament.
The Town hopes to bring a new Half Marathon to town in
June, without any contribution from the budget.
And there's the Spartan Race, Hay Festival
and Cooler in the Mountains returning.
Webb is also in talks with NBC's The Biggest Loser program,
Ironman and a yogi for a yoga retreat.
Webb said $141,000 of event money spent in 2013 will have
an estimated return to town businesses of more than $3
million, based on a formula for return on investment used by
Also in next year's plan is an intention to provide advice and
support to the owners of Bill's Country Store who plan to make it a
visitor's center, a partnership with the Rutland Economic
Development Corporation to bring technology jobs to Killington, a
plan to build more walking and hiking trails and support for
developing the town's gateway and beautifying Killington Road.
Selectman Jim Haff said that with the ongoing $600,000 golf
course debt payments and dispersed economic development money
throughout the budget, the town is investing nearly $1 million
annually to EDT.
Cristina Kumka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org