Avon businesses back transit tax | VailDaily.com

Avon businesses back transit tax

AVON, Colorado – Roger Benedict is like a lot of business owners – tell him about a sales tax increase and his eyebrows go up. But Benedict, and other town business owners, are supporting this fall’s ballot question to raise Avon’s sales tax to improve bus service.

Benedict spoke at an Avon Town Council meeting this summer, and had a number of questions for council members. And he acknowledges that his first instinct was to oppose the proposal.

Now, though, Benedict is a public spokesman for the proposal, which has the support of the Avon Business Association.

“I went looking for opposition, and found very little,” Benedict said. That search included an on-line survey and an e-mailed question sent to everyone in the business association’s database.

Benedict said part of what swayed him was the modesty of the proposal – one sales tax increase to raise money for one thing. That’s much different than a proposal the council debated, but didn’t take to the ballot, last year. It’s different even than an early version of this year’s package, which would have included a lodging tax increase to help pay for event promotion.

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“They focused on one big issue – connecting downtown Avon to Beaver Creek,” Benedict said.

The town’s business association has also agreed to help pay some of the costs of the “vote yes” campaign, contributing $500 so far. Benedict, whose business, Ruggs Benedict, sits on the corner of Nottingham and Metcalf roads, may even reconsider his longtime ban on campaign signs in order to put one up supporting the measure.

But Mike Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports, has mixed feelings about his support.

“I know the money has to come from someplace, but I don’t like it coming from me,” Brumbaugh said.

Brumbaugh acknowledged the need to get people from Avon to Beaver Creek – that’s why people stay in Avon, he said. But, he added, if the sales tax passes it will put Avon’s total sales tax near 10 percent, not far behind the rates in Vail and Beaver Creek, and another notch higher than the current difference between Avon and Edwards.

On a $5,000 bike, the difference in taxes can be $200 right now, Brumbaugh said. The new sales tax, if approved, would add another $17.50.

“That shouldn’t make a difference, but at some point people will say enough’s enough,” Brumbaugh said.

Ultimately, though, Brumbaugh believes the town’s bus service needs a boost.

“I don’t know a better way to do it,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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