Report prompts discussion for Killington businesses
By Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | August 13,2012
KILLINGTON — A new 21-page report commissioned by the Killington Chamber of Commerce recommends that the town sell its municipal golf course and reduce the 30 percent of local options taxes that go to the state.
The report received mixed reviews at a Select Board meeting this week — one selectman called it insignificant and erroneous, and another said it could be used to push for more private investment to update the town’s look and infrastructure.
The report by Strategic Marketing Group in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., is the result of a recent two-day trip to Killington made by company owner Carl Ribaudo.
At first he couldn’t find the town and when he did, thought the access road and businesses along it needed more “class,” according to the chamber.
Former chamber president and business owner Phil Black said Ribaudo “didn’t feel a sense of arrival” and gave the resort town an overall grade of C or C minus compared to other resort towns.
“For being the biggest ski resort on the East, there are inefficiencies,” Black told the Select Board last week.
Thirteen Killington officials, business owners and employees were interviewed for the report.
Pickle Barrel owner Chris Karr, the current chamber president, would not say how much the report cost, just that the work was ongoing.
Ribaudo concludes that economic development has suffered because the town takes money from the town’s Economic Development and Tourism (EDT) Office, strictly funded by the 1 percent local option tax, to pay off some of the $4 million debt on the town-owned Green Mountain National Golf Course.
The chamber believes local businesses have suffered because 42 percent less money is going to the EDT.
This year a youth circus and canine event were canceled and one of the more popular events — the Hay Festival — had less money directed to it, forcing businesses to contribute more to one of the state’s Top Ten events.
Ribaudo suggested $1 million was the minimum needed annually to run a destination marketing effort.
The EDT’s budget as of July was $402,822.
“Since 2008, the EDT has transitioned from being a semi-autonomous entity with a dedicated and restricted funding source to being a town department funded by annual general-fund appropriations,” according to a Karr memo presented at the board meeting Tuesday.
To get more bang for their buck from economic development, Ribaudo suggested several options: Urge the state Legislature to reduce the 30 percent of the local option tax that goes to the state; repeal the 1 percent option tax and replace it with a voluntary assessment to save the 30 percent that goes to the state; more aggressively pay down the golf course debt in a shorter amount of the time that town already has planned; sell the golf course in its entirety.
For the complete story, see Tuesday's Rutland Herald.