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May 9, 2012
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What Eagle really needs

It is really time for Eagle to get real about the situation facing us. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that wishful thinking and vague promises of a bright future built on the flimsiest of foundations will no longer suffice.

It is really true that 60 percent of our town budget comes from sales tax revenue, and 40 percent of that comes from City Market, while only 7 percent comes from retail sales downtown. That means that the eggs supplying our revenue are all in one basket. Property taxes supply a very small portion of our revenues.

It is really true that between 2007 and 2010, Eagle's revenue has plummeted, creating a 38 percent decline in our budget and staff reductions of 20 percent. Even scarier, our capital budget has declined 93 percent over the last four years.

It's really true that we have continued to lose local businesses. As other towns have seen a resurgence in sales tax revenue, we have gained only about 5 percent. We are losing ground fast. We do not have a retail presence with a strong enough draw in Eagle to keep our own residents shopping here, much less anyone from around the state.

It is really true that nobody living in Eagle moved here to shop. It is also true that even though we live in paradise, we still have to purchase necessities as well as those things that we just want. Since many of those items simply are not available in Eagle, our sales tax expenditures are bleeding out to other shopping districts such as Glenwood Springs. We see as many friends at Target as at City Market. Eagle residents do try hard to support local businesses, but a middle-aged woman looking for a size 14 outfit will not buy a prom dress instead, and a couple looking for a child's car seat will not default to a fishing lure. They will find and purchase what they need elsewhere.

It is really true that Eagle has the single best retail site on the Western Slope, with terrific visibility, quick access to Interstate 70, close proximity to premiere ski resorts and one of the busiest airports in Colorado. A highly respected developer with significant expertise in retail will provide a conduit for $66 million of investment in very important public infrastructure as well as devote significant monies to the construction of the shopping center. This brings vital construction jobs, maintenance contracts and retail jobs to our community. The town's portion of sales tax revenue at the completion of Phase I is conservatively estimated to be close to $2 million a year, beginning with the first retail sale. There simply is no other way for the town of Eagle to generate that kind of funding, regardless of how many events are held, how much we support our local businesses, and how much we market the town. ERS will also be actively marketing Eagle and local events that it supports in order to bring more people into our area.

Here are two real examples of what having poor funding means to Eagle. There are commercial lots left on Chambers Avenue, perhaps even enough acreage to accommodate a City Market expansion. However, no further building is possible now because there is insufficient water service and fire flow along Chambers. Part of the public infrastructure for ERS includes major upgrades of a new water tank on the east side, and new water supply lines and sewer lines along Chambers and to the water treatment plant. In other words, ERS paves the way for expansion on Chambers. There are people who would like to develop infill projects along Capitol and Wall Street. Unfortunately, we still have clay sewer lines in those locations, and the town does not have enough enterprise funds coming in to use for those upgrades. So, infill development in downtown Eagle is effectively stalled. New development and tap fees can pave the way for improvements downtown.

What Eagle really needs is Eagle River Station. Please vote yes for Eagle on May 22.

Frances Rolater

Eagle


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The VailDaily Updated May 9, 2012 01:31PM Published May 9, 2012 01:30PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.