Avon ballot question gets initial OK | VailDaily.com

Avon ballot question gets initial OK

Lauren Glendenning
Avon, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado – Voters could have the option this November to decide whether to pay for the increased bus services the town of Avon plans to add.

The town recently surveyed 373 of its 2,739 registered voters on the phone to find out if the people who are likely to vote even wanted the extra service, and if so, how they wanted to pay for it.

The survey specifically asked if people would vote for a 75-cent sales tax increase to pay for the services – more than 65 percent said yes.

The survey asked other questions about which bus services town residents thought are most necessary, with Avon to Beaver Creek service during the ski season ranking high, as well as stops in the Village at Avon and Wildridge.

The town hasn’t figured out which bus routes it would add services to, or which method of funding would pay for it – lodging, sales or property taxes or bus fares – but council members did agree Tuesday to take the next step in adding a ballot question in November.

“To do nothing means we’re settled with a transit system that’s in decline,” said Councilman Brian Sipes.

The council basically said it intends to start the process of adding the ballot question, but it could still pull out before the election or change the question to include a combination of funding options rather than just a sales tax increase.

A couple of Avon business owners showed up Tuesday to tell members the sales tax hike was bad for business.

Roger Benedict, who owns the Ruggs Benedict store off Nottingham Road, said the tax increase could mean the difference between customers shopping there or in Edwards and Eagle-Vail, which have almost half Avon’s current sales tax rate.

He said on expensive purchases, the difference of 5 percent can be huge.

“We have tough competitors right next door to us,” Benedict said.

Mayor Ron Wolfe said he wasn’t comfortable with raising taxes. His mission has always been to reduce sales taxes within the town, and he’s “totally anti-more property tax.”

“It doesn’t feel good to me, I’ll tell you that,” Wolfe said.

Avon town council members want to hear residents’ thoughts on adding bus service in the town and how to pay for it. Visit http://www.avon.org, click on the transit survey link under the quick links area on the homepage and fill in your comments in the box at the bottom of the page

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