Support slips for visitor centers
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local municipalities are more reluctant than ever to pony up funds for the visitor information centers in Frisco and Silverthorne.Town leaders voiced aversion to the idea at a Mayors, Managers and Commissioners luncheon last week, when Frisco town manager Michael Penny warned them of a membership competition likely to occur between two chambers of commerce as ski season approaches.Town managers also questioned the appropriateness of using government money to attract members to businesses that are private organizations. Both the Summit County Chamber of Commerce and the Frisco Chamber of Commerce submitted grant proposals to local governments to run the centers. “We have two different organizations with their hand out, presumably for the same thing,” said Frisco Mayor Bernie Zurbriggen.Summit County Chamber executive director Constance Jones could not be reached for comment.Penny said information center management is a carrot dangled by chambers to attract membership from the same pool of local businesses, who covet marketing opportunities at the busy centers.”Be wary,” Penny said during a discussion that chiefly included town managers from the area’s four towns, which are considering budget items for 2005.While considering a proposal by the Summit Chamber to run the information centers, the managers noted significant increases in town contributions, plus a $12,000 management fee. Penny told the managers not to take the proposal seriously, because it was his impression the chamber wants to get out of the information center business. “The only reason the Summit County chamber is interested is because that’s a vast reason for membership,” Penny said. “If you don’t get the representation at information centers, then why would you join?”The information centers ran into trouble this summer when financial woes prompted the Frisco location on Summit Boulevard to close. The Summit chamber previously managed the two locations, but the chips fell to Frisco town government to find volunteers, which are “being pulled off the streets,” according to Penny, to run the new location on Main Street. Managers at the Silverthorne Factory Stores are chipping in to run the Silverthorne center. The change in management prompted community leaders to question what type of information will be distributed to tourists in Frisco and Silverthorne. “They’re saying they’ll be focused on Frisco and then offer other information,” Dillon town manager Jack Benson said of the new location. “And in Silverthorne, they want to be Factory Stores dominant and then (offer information) on everyone else.”Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen balked at the priority issue.”If we can’t figure out who’s going to be giving what (information), we might not be willing to give (funds) at all.”This year, three of the four towns funded the Frisco and Silverthorne locations at $5,000 apiece.With two of its own information locations in Breckenridge, Gagen said he is likely to recommend the Breckenridge Town Council not fund the others. Local governments will continue to consider funding requests through the fall and are expected to pass 2005 budgets by the end of the year. Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at email@example.com.
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