VAIL - Vail voters say this is the wrong time to ask for a tax increase, a survey said.
The town is considering a combination tax increase- adding 1.5 percent to the lodging tax and 0.5 percent to the sales tax.
The money would be used to create and market special events.
When surveyed about it, 58 percent said they'd vote "no," and most of them were strongly opposed; 37 percent said they'd support it and only 4 percent were undecided.
Even after respondents were told about the possible benefits, it didn't make much difference to opponents.
Fully half, 50 percent, remained opposed, even after they were told they could vote it out after five years.
"If this was on the ballot today the 'no' side shows a much stronger intensity than the supporters," David Flaherty with Magellan Strategies told the Vail Town Council on Tuesday. His firm conducted the poll.
Magellan Strategies, a Louisville-based research firm, ran the survey between May 7 and May 31. It interviewed 260 Vail voters on the phone and online. The survey has a margin of error of 6 percent.
Supporters of the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival were emailed and encouraged to take the poll and speak in favor of the tax.
Magellan learned about the effort and discovered that 11 percent of those who took the survey, 28 people, said Bravo encouraged them to take the poll.
"Take them out and the opposition increases to 61 percent," Flaherty said.
Flaherty, who has been at this for years, was asked if he thought the tax could pass if it were placed on the November ballot.
"In my experience I'd say it is very unlikely. The intensity of the 'no' voters is much stronger than the supporters," Flaherty said. "You're starting out with very strong opposition."
Vail is home to around 6,000 registered voters, Flaherty said.
Vail resident Stephen Connolly encouraged the town council to support the tax.
"This is a great tax. It's a tax that someone else pays. The stumbling block is the 0.5 percent sales tax. No one is gong to pass that. If you frame it as a tax paid by visitors, it's probably going to pass," Connolly said.
Mia Vlaar worked on the committee tasked with coming up with the proposal. She pointed out that 80 percent of the people said they loved events and the economic vitality they create for the town and urged the council to try to create some sort of consistent funding source.
Still, the Town Council appeared unlikely to ask voters for the tax increase this November.
"It's a strong message and it's not necessarily the message we wanted to hear," said Kerry Donovan, Town Council member. "I think for now, the support is not out there. Until things change, I don't think it's the best use of the staff's time given the to-do list we face, which is daunting."
In 2012, Vail will spend $2.4 million in funding and $300,000 in in-kind services for athletic, cultural and other special events and programs in town, as well as operation related to those events.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.