Snowmass to appoint board for marketing if tax passes |

Snowmass to appoint board for marketing if tax passes

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

If you were to suggest ways to substantially boost the marketing for Snowmass Village, forming a new committee to work on it might not jump to the top of your list.

Ah, but a new committee armed with $2.5 million a year to spend on marketing and special events, that might be a different story.

And that’s the direction the Snowmass Village Town Council is taking in shaping a new marketing strategy for the resort.

It hopes a new marketing and special events sales tax will be passed by Snowmass Village voters in November. And it hopes to appoint a new five-member board to make marketing decisions.

Historically, marketing Snowmass the resort has fallen to the Snowmass Village Resort Association, which has charged its members in the original portion of the resort near the mall a “civic assessment,” or tax, on retail, restaurant and lodging sales.

But two issues have long plagued that arrangement. The first is that not all businesses in town pay the assessment, including the on-mountain restaurants or the businesses at the Snowmass Center. And the second has been the perception that the SVRA’s marketing has often been ineffective.

The Snowmass Village Town Council has been working to change that. Most recently, it has gotten the SVRA to support the idea of a new townwide marketing sales tax. It did so as part of a deal to transfer the resort’s conference center to SVRA’s full control. In the deal, the SVRA got the conference center (which it already had been paying for), and in exchange, the SVRA agreed to not charge its civic assessment on restaurant and retail operations for at least five years.

With that agreement done, the council has been working on both the wording of a tax question for the November ballot and the makeup of a new Snowmass Village marketing and special events board to make marketing decisions and spend the revenue, which is expected to be in the $2.5 million range annually.

Based on a recent council resolution, the marketing board is being created to “promote marketing, to create, promote and execute special events, for public relations and the development of tourism for the benefit of Snowmass Village; to support the aspiration of Snowmass Village to be the leading multi-season family oriented mountain resort community; and to foster the quality of life and economic vitality of Snowmass Village as a sustainable resort community.”

The board is to have five members, all residents of Snowmass Village. Two will be at-large members. One will represent the lodging industry, one the retail sector and one the food and beverage sector.

The members are to be appointed by the Town Council to three-year terms. Nominations are to come from the Snowmass business community, and there must be at least a three-quarters majority vote by the council in order to refuse someone a seat on the board if they have been nominated to represent a specific sector.

In addition, the board will have an advisory committee made up of people employed by such local marketing organizations as the Aspen Skiing Co., the SVRA, the Stay Aspen/Snowmass central reservations group and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

The primary responsibility of the board is to “direct the expenditures of funds for marketing, including print, electronic media as well as mail and direct mail solicitation, and for public relations and administrative costs,” and to “create, promote and execute special events.”

The board will not be created and members will not be appointed unless the tax question passes.

If the ballot question to create the marketing tax and the board passes in November, it is not likely to profoundly change the marketing for the winter of 2002-03.

If the tax passes, SVRA’s normal marketing plan will be paid for with the sales tax revenue, although there may be changes to the marketing plan, especially concerning special events, that could be seen this winter.

“You wouldn’t expect to see the full force of the program until the winter 2003-04, but you would expect to see something late in the winter of 2002-03,” said Bob Purvis, a Snowmass councilman.

If the tax doesn’t pass, SVRA will continue to cover the cost of its marketing plan, which is in the $800,000 range for this winter and resembles last winter’s marketing effort.

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