Killington taxpayers to fund events of the regional business organization?

Dear Editor,

Last Tuesday the Killington Select Board voted unanimously to proceed with handing over control of the town’s marketing and events to the KPAA [Killington-Pico Area Association]. Details of the proposed agreement are posted on the Killington town website.

According to the agreement the town will spend the entire marketing and events budget, approved by the voters, on behalf of the KPAA. This is somehow rationalized as the town hiring a “subcontractor” to do the marketing and events function.

Well, I beg to differ. Not only is the town going to pay the bills for the KPAA and handing over control of the events it has invested in directly and indirectly over the last seven or so years, but it is also handing over the outside sponsorship relationships it has formed with partners such as Long Trail Brewing, Casella, and Farrel Distributing. These co-sponsorship funds will flow directly to the KPAA with no accounting as to how these funds are being used.

While the Select Board and town manager insisted the town will maintain control over the moneys it gives the KPAA, since the town will be reviewing and paying its share of the marketing and events expenses directly, no mention is made of the dollars flowing to the KPAA from the co-sponsors of the events.

Furthermore, the KPAA proposal states it can do a better job than the town with the events. Well, a couple of things: first, the town has done a pretty good job to this point. After initially being the sole sponsor and financier of the events, it has developed co-sponsors to share the production expenses. My sense is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Secondly, the newly formed KPAA has a severely limited track record in this arena. Some want to say that it has experience from its days as the Killington Chamber, but if that’s the case, why reform as the KPAA? The short answer is financial and internal management issues (from what I’ve gleaned from newspaper reports). If the argument that the KPAA has a track record as the Killington Chamber (whether successful or not is undetermined) in marketing and events, there is no doubt that in its prior iteration as the Killington Chamber it had documented financial, managerial and operations problems. Do we really want the town to stick its neck out and enter into a contract with such an entity?

This is another case of the town’s administration investing dollars and manpower over years building a viable vehicle for advancing its agenda of economic development via tourism and then basically giving it away. Last night an attendee stated that the town, after creating the Discover Killington website, which people have estimated cost hundreds of thousands, gave it at no cost to a private entity.

While I applaud the KPAA’s efforts to promote its agenda of making regional businesses more profitable, my feeling is these businesses, not the town of Killington, should be supporting the KPAA. What other towns are handing over resources to the KPAA?

I have no problem with the town handing over the marketing and events function to the KPAA, as I have always thought the town has no business being in business and should concentrate on its core functions as a municipality, i.e., roads, public safety and infrastructure, but I don’t agree with the town funding these efforts (with tax dollars) on behalf of private entities.

Another sign of the of the KPAA usurping the town’s resources is it has taken the town’s logo and adapted it for itself. This makes it look like the KPAA is part of the town’s government, which it is not, and I object to that. This is the town’s “brand” and, as such, has value.

If they want to use the same colors I have no problem with that but the logo needs to go!

Vito Rasenas, Killington

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