Vail Valley Voices: Sales tax revenue surges for town of Vail
Ryan Summerlin April 14, 2013
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vail
The town of Vail reported record sales tax collections for 2012, surpassing the previous high set in 2008.
The boost in collections was due largely to an increase in summer special event business and occurred in spite of a slow start to the winter season.
The source of the highest sales tax increases occurred from properties redeveloped during the boom years with Vail Village continuing its unending trend of outpacing Lionshead.
Lodges and restaurants led retail as the dominant beneficiaries. Some critics are saying that the town’s economic reports are misleading because not all sectors in the Vail business community are benefiting to the degree the reports portray.
Town 2012 revenues across all funds were down three percent when compared to 2011. The town’s March 2013 Revenue Highlights Report shows sales taxes through February were up 7.9 percent over same period in 2012. There was positive growth in parking fees, but a 6.7 percent decrease in real estate transfer tax revenues.
Vail Resorts is reporting a strong winter season so far for its mountain resorts and announced the replacement of Chair 4 with a new lift having a 33 percent increase in capacity. Improved mid- and late-season snow conditions may mean that first quarter 2013 sales tax collections will continue to trend upward.
Vail and Eagle counties’ real estate appeared to be riding the consumer confidence wave born on low borrowing rates, along with other Western mountain resorts, with a strong close to 2012 sales.
Inexplicably, perhaps due to the fallout from congressional budgetary wrangling, since the beginning of the year, Vail and Eagle county property sales have shown a drop-off in performance, as have Aspen and Pitkin county.
Nonetheless, the recovery in the national housing market is stirring some local developers to begin laying the groundwork for a renewal of speculative redevelopment projects.
Eagle County foreclosure rates have dropped, and the number of transactions filed is down by roughly 42 percent over this time last year. County employment trends are improving, with the number of jobs and workers on the increase. The county’s unemployment is at 5.94 percent, the lowest rate since February 2009, well below both state and federal levels.
The town is moving to selectively stimulate real estate redevelopment in Vail Village. The town of Vail also appears to be readying its political processes to selectively stimulate more construction and development tied to tourism.
This time around, it has its sights set on Vail Village and the surrounding neighborhoods. However, there are indicators that there may be a pullback by the town from its highly aggressive pre-recession development posture.
Some people in the community are asking when enough growth will become too much redevelopment.
It started in the 1990s with zoning incentives to upgrade Vail’s less-than-competitive high-end guest bed base, then moved on to the need to add more commercial space to drive down lease rates.
Now there are those asking when it will end. Is more, and bigger, better?
Town studies are under way to identify the historic attributes of Vail Village that could be used to shape the architectural character and size of redevelopment, as well as expand the area where overlay design guideline regulations would apply.
There has been a growing sense, as the community adjusts to its latest surge of development, that a line has been crossed that has brought over-commercialization and excessive urbanization.