Steamboat Springs Hayden officials are pressing lawmakers to help retrieve thousands of dollars in sales tax from fuel sales at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
The Colorado Department of Revenue hasn't remitted sales tax collected the last few months of 2008, Town Manager Russ Martin said. The town hasn't seen any of the money that's come in since Galaxy Aviation took over as fixed-base operator last fall. Hayden officials estimate that the town is owed $60,000 to $70,000, Martin said.
Martin said he thinks the state has the money but hasn't handed it over because of confusion about a sales tax license. State officials haven't treated the issue as an urgent problem, he said. The town is sending letters to Gov. Bill Ritter, state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, and state Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, to solicit help.
"It's just very frustrating," Martin said. "We need this money, and we assume we're going to get this money. And the state seems to think (it has) problems like this all the time, and if they do, there's an issue there."
Martin said he was told Hayden might wait two or three years for the money. Revenue Department spokesman Mark Couch said he has asked staff members to look into the issue but hadn't received any information by Tuesday evening.
Hayden officials also want the state to audit fuel sales to make sure the town gets the correct amount of sales tax. The town isn't suggesting Galaxy did anything wrong, Martin said.
"I think they're running a good business," he said. "I have no reason to think they're not. I think there's some kind of paperwork mishap or something along those lines, but we haven't seen that yet, and it's getting very frustrating."
YVRA and Routt County have been helpful, but the state is taking too long, Martin said. The issue might be related to fuel supplier ConocoPhillips, Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said.
"What I think happened is that when Galaxy took over over there, they changed fuel suppliers, and that new supplier is ConocoPhillips," he said. "Apparently there's something with the state where ConocoPhillips had to be licensed, and their license didn't come into effect I think until the beginning of January, and there was some question of who should be paying that sales tax."
ConocoPhillips hasn't returned a call seeking comment, but the company wasn't contacted until after its business hours.
Don Kaplan, regional manager for Galaxy Aviation, said he hadn't heard anything about the issue. Galaxy took charge of fixed-base operator duties from Spectrum Jet Center last fall. Galaxy buys fuel from ConocoPhillips and sells it to commercial and private airplanes, Kaplan said.
"We buy it, pay our taxes, and that's the end of it," he said. "We do the fuel for everyone, and we have not done anything wrong."
At Thursday's Hayden Town Board of Trustees meeting, Martin alerted the board to the problem.
"It's a very serious issue because it could affect our revenues this year. : It's our understanding that the state actually has the money," Martin said.
Town Board members urged Martin to proceed with letters to lawmakers. A two- or three-year wait is unacceptable, Trustee Bill Hayden said.
He said he hadn't had problems with the Revenue Department until now.
"I believe we've been pretty patient trying to work through the system, but the system does not seem to see the importance that we're feeling. : How long do you wait to get someone to respond?" Martin asked.