Breckenridge, BRC to consider half-cent sales tax for marketing
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge town officials will meet with the Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC) board Tuesday to discuss a ballot referendum that would add a half-cent sales tax to go toward marketing.BRC board member and Town Councilmember Rob Millisor noted last week that the BRC’s marketing budget has remained relatively flat over the years, and increased competition has made it more difficult to market the town effectively.In 1994 – the year after voters eliminated a state tax that funded marketing – the BRC operated on a budget of $828,546, of which the town contributed $646,115. This year, its budget is $1.153 million, of which the town contributes $880,000.If voters were to approve a sales tax, it would bring the town’s overall tax to 8.65 percent; lodging taxes would increase to 10.75 percent. Town manager Tim Gagen noted that those rates would put Breckenridge in line with other mountain resort towns.For instance, Aspen has a total tax rate of 8.6 percent, of which 1.5 percent goes to open space, .25 to parking and .45 to affordable housing. Crested Butte’s tax is 7.9 percent, of which 1 percent is dedicated to transit. Snowmass Village has a 9.9 percent sales tax, of which 2.5 percent is dedicated to marketing.The sales tax would generate an estimated $1.2 million for marketing and special events for a total of almost $2 million the town would use to fund BRC marketing efforts.”There would be no shortage of ways to spend that,” Millisor said. “It could mean more events, better events – and certainly more money in the marketplace.”The idea of a sales tax is merely that – an idea. Town and BRC officials aren’t sure how it would be accepted by voters, and how it could be affected by a citizen initiative that proposes to add a 2.5 percent tax to lift tickets. But a sales tax ties into the economic viability of the town.Advertising costs have skyrocketed over the past 10 years, making it that much more difficult for everyone to get their message heard.Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) funding was increased from $5.7 million in 2002-03 to $12 million in fiscal year 2003-04, in part due to research that showed a 13-to-1 return in taxes on the investment in advertising. That brings Colorado to 38th in the nation in terms of marketing funding. But it still leaves much of the marketing up to local entities.According to the CTO, Colorado is the fifth top state American vacationers dream about visiting, following Hawaii, Florida, California and Alaska in the rankings. But there’s a huge gap between that wish list and eventual trip-taking.A CTO study indicates that while 110 million Americans “dream” of visiting Colorado, only 22 million made it in 2002.”It’s competitive out there,” Millisor said. “The whole idea is to keep us competitive in the marketplace.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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