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Aspen seeks additional lodging tax



ASPEN, Colo.-The Aspen Chamber Resort Association plans to ask for a 1 per cent lodging tax that would be devoted to primarily summer marketing. The city council would have to accept the proposal to take the matter before voters, which it has not yet done, although Mayor Mick Ireland has agreed to lead the community campaign.

The Aspen Skiing Co. bankrolls winter marketing efforts. But summer marketing is more restrained. The existing lodging tax generates $450,000 annually for marketing. The additional tax would bring the total to nearly $1.5 million, explains the Aspen Times .


Crested Butte looks for lifeline

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - Crested Butte continues to reel economically, not quite sure how to right itself.

The local economy depends upon people willing to deliver pots of money. Getting there isn't the easiest thing, though - a four-hour drive from Denver or, for that matter, a four-hour drive from Aspen, just 30 miles away but hundreds of miles away by mostly two-lane road during winter.

Next winter, getting to Crested Butte will become more difficult yet. The community intends to bankroll fewer direct flights from Houston and other cities and connecting flights from Denver.

To induce the airlines to offer flights, the local community guarantees revenues. Part of that money comes from sales tax revenues. With the economy already depressed, revenues have decreased, and the Gunnison Valley Regional Transit Authority assumes 15 per cent further declines in coming months.

The impact of fewer airline seats? Joe Fitzpatrick, town manager of Mt. Crested Butte, imagines the opposite of Kevin Costner's build-it-and-they-will come baseball field.

"If we continue to reduce airline seats, I guarantee Mt. Crested Butte sales tax revenues will continue to decline. It becomes a spiral."

The Crested Butte News reports that the local agency is crimping more on local bus service, but still plans to contribute only $325,000 next winter to direct flights, as compared to $600,000 this winter.

The ski area, meanwhile, continues to make its case for expansion onto nearby Snodgrass Mountain. The proposal goes back at least 30 years. During the last decade the ski company has consistently argued that it needs the expansion to survive profitably in the still flat ski market.

The problem is that Crested Butte, if thrilling to expert skiers, intimidates intermediate skiers, the bread-and-butter of the destination skiing market. All the big ski areas have oodles of intermediate terrain. And what little intermediate terrain Crested Butte has tends to bore visitors after a couple of days. More than places like Aspen and Vail, visitors to Crested Butte don't return for a second year. That boosts advertising costs.