Despite the various and differing views printed here on a weekly basis, our community has come a long way to come together in a short few years. In the early 2000s our town identified a problem in Killington. Simply put, our community was not united. We were lacking a sense of community in our town, and our residents and businesses were suffering for it. In 2008, our town leaders met with Paul Castello from the Vermont Council Rural Development, looking for resolutions. This organization works throughout the state to foster community development and build local business. What we learned in these meetings, is that we needed to work together, create more for our town, and ultimately build a community in which others would want to work and reside. Being left no other funding mechanism to bring this to fruition, we became the first town in the state to vote in the 1 percent option taxes for the purpose of economic development.
In the years that followed, the funds collected were added to the town’s general fund. The options tax funds originally intended for economic development are now being used for various other town expenses, and not what we had originally purposed the tax.
Since all of this has taken place, there has been some success we can attribute to implementing the options tax. Our business community and the Killington resort have worked together to unify and enhance our winter business, and also develop a plan to drive summer tourism. A positive change in leadership at the resort proved to be a great catalyst in stimulating this change, and summer business has grown tremendously in the past five years. From the promotion of concerts, races, mountain biking, weddings, golf, events and the outdoor adventure center our town has seen a massive increase in summer traffic. We should all be aware that some of these changes have come from investments made through option tax dollars, and a lot of the changes have also stemmed from major investments made by Killington Resort from their own funds.
Residents of Killington are now looking at an article on our town ballot that has the potential to further support our growing community, by fixing the flaws in the rules of the options tax. Our townspeople should vote to repeal a portion of the option tax that has been flawed since its inception. Currently, the way the tax is structured, our towns businesses collect 1 percent on all sales & use, and on rooms & meals and alcohol. This tax is collected by our businesses, and paid to the state of Vermont, who then retains 30 percent of these funds. Our town only sees 70 percent of the funds collected. If we can repeal this flawed portion of the way this tax is written, our town has the opportunity to retain our current level of funding for both the EDT and KPAA events, without it costing the town’s consumers and resort such a large amount of money. It makes far greater sense for property and business owners in Killington to retain the dollars they contribute to sales and use. The resort and the KPAA can handle the financial burden of promoting summer and community events without this 1 percent. The options tax on rooms and meals, however, is necessary to continue to pay the golf course debt and fund other growth initiatives for our town. If we can vote to fix these flaws, these changes would first have effect on the 2018-2019 town budget.
It is my hope that the voters in our town can come together to sunset the sales & use options tax.
Christopher Karr, Killington, Vt.