Mayor on marketing
December 7, 2009
The Aspen City Council has not made a formal decision on how to recover money to be loaned to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to supplement marketing for this summer.
The council has directed staff to create a plan to reimburse the city general fund for $400,000 of the $500,000 tentatively budgeted to supplement advertising. According to council direction, the money would be repaid from a newly formed Lodge Marketing District if the voters approve such a district. In the event the voters do not approve such a district, the $400,000 would be recaptured from the existing half-cent marketing tax.
I apologize for creating confusion on this by not correctly reciting council direction at a recent ACRA meeting. I said (correctly) that the $400,000 would be recovered from the Lodge Marketing District if created. I said (incorrectly) that the city would not seek recovery from the existing tax if the district failed. Again, no final decision has been made.
I continue to support a Lodge Marketing District through a city-wide vote. I did not support a district-only vote and still do not. Only 217 of the voters eligible to participate in the district vote actually case ballots, a number too small (in my opinion) to set tax and marketing policy on this critical issue.
Aspen needs to reorient its economy to sustainable, basic tourism and away from speculative luxury residential development. In recent years, this council has rejected some projects (Lodge at Aspen Mountain, Weinerstube) that might well have left us with the half-built, financially crippled structures such as we now see on Main Street, in Snowmass Village and downvalley.
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Creating a sustainable economy will require buy-in and support from the entire community. To that end, a city-wide vote on marketing policy and use of tax capacity is essential.
I also support involving citizens directly in the creation of special events to attract a broader customer base. The aging of our visitor population is as obvious as it is disturbing. Attracting the next generation of visitors requires the imagination and support of the entire community, and, for that reason, we are soliciting and should ultimately fund citizen suggestions for new events.
Already, some good ideas are coming forward that can use some help from the city. The now famous Food and Wine Magazine Classic started years ago as a small gathering and grew to a nationally acclaimed week of activity that helps sustain us.
I respect the ACRA’s expertise in marketing, but I also recognize that none of us have a monopoly on all the ideas and events that ought to be marketed. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to create a sustainable economy.