Steamboat Springs, Referendum 2B, November 2011
With the severe downturn in the economy starting in the fall of 2008, airlines were cutting air services into Yampa Valley Regional Airport. To not only maintain existing direct flights into the airport, but also grow them, this referendum asked voters to approve a 0.25% sales tax increase that would sunset in December of 2016. Past research tested many arguments for and against the sales tax increase. The most damaging case against the sales tax was that the “big” ski area would be the only ones to benefit.
However, we also learned that likely voters believed, agreed and understood that out-of-town visitors spent money in places that their friends and family worked. That was the message that we kept front and center, using that we were able to help pass a tax increase in a time of severe economic stress. Our tracking surveys just before the election showed the ballot test among voters that had already voted as 48% supporting the sales tax increase, 46% opposing and 6% undecided. Among voters that had yet to vote, the ballot test showed 55% supporting the sales tax increase, 30% opposing it and 15% being undecided. The actual vote ended up being 61% supporting the sales tax increase and 39% opposing it.