The end of an era in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

The end of an era in Snowmass

Chad Abraham

The Snowmass Village Resort Association is going, going, but not quite gone.The organization’s members last week voted overwhelmingly to disband and transfer the group’s 2.4 percent civic assessment, similar to a property tax, to the town’s jurisdiction. Voters approved the plan in Tuesday’s election, and Snowmass Village will start collecting the lodging tax, which remains 2.4 percent, on Jan. 1.Revenues from the tax will fund marketing efforts aimed at attracting groups to the town for seminars, conferences and the like. All rooms rented for less than 30 straight days will be taxed.The resort association predates Snowmass Village’s incorporation as a town. Its assessment was placed on about 65 percent of the resort’s hotels, lodges and retail shops in the West Village area. But the association’s boundary stopped near Fanny Hill and didn’t include Base Village or the Snowmass Center.The consensus among resort association members was to transfer taxing authority to the town, said Brett Huske, the association’s president. That will allow the lodging tax to be applied throughout Snowmass Village, not just in West Village. Once Base Village is built and occupied, revenues from the lodging tax are expected to grow tremendously.It is one of the last steps in a long, slow transition into history for the Snowmass Village Resort Association. The group, which once picked up the trash and paved the streets as the area’s only government in the 1960s, gave up its central reservations department in 2003. Most of the group’s advertising efforts soon followed as the town’s new marketing department took on more responsibility.And with last week’s vote of association members to dissolve, it appears all that is left is paperwork to finalize the deal. That will likely take place within the next 20 months, Huske said. The resort association will officially be defunct Jan. 1, and the board wanted a year and a half to ensure enough time for financial aspects and other loose ends to be worked out, he said. It could be sooner than that, he added.Huske and town officials have discussed his possible employment with the town.”I would hope to have an opportunity to stay on and join the town,” he said.Once a transition agreement is signed, all of the association’s assets will become the property of the town.Susan Hamley, the town’s marketing director, said the move will be good for all of Snowmass Village.”The beauty of being under the town, just like with marketing and special events, is that we promote the overall Snowmass Village,” she said. “And the same thing with group sales: [The department] is going to be promoting bringing groups here for the benefit of all of Snowmass Village.”As Snowmass Village is a destination resort, group sales are as critical as other visitors in filling it up, Hamley said.”It takes both [types of visitors] complementing each other,” she said. “One won’t do it on its own. Groups are also great for shoulder seasons, to some extent.”Robert Sinko, general manager of the Crestwood condominium complex, also said it will be good for the town in the long run. But he said he and others in the lodging community would have preferred the tax not focus solely on rooms.”They would have preferred to see the tax on every sales item in the village,” Sinko said. “But the good thing about it is it brings the community together. Hopefully SRA will disband and the entire lodging community will pay the tax.”There is one last detail. While members voted to disband, there wasn’t a two-thirds majority that was needed to retire the resort association’s founding declarations.”They will still exist, but my question was, if SRA dissolves itself, who would ever bring it back?” Huske said.There won’t be another vote on the declarations, which he said were a moot issue. But Snowmass Village’s founding doctrines will still be there, just in an ethereal form, hanging over the town they helped shape.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com

Go back to article