Avon nixes transit tax hike – for now | VailDaily.com

Avon nixes transit tax hike – for now

Lauren Glendenning
Avon, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado –Skiers can keep free bus service to and from Avon and Beaver Creek next ski season and taxpayers, for now, aren’t going to have to cough up more money to pay for it.

The Avon Town Council has been talking about putting a question on the November ballot asking voters for a tax increase. Council members hadn’t yet figured out whether the question would ask for sales tax, lodging tax or some combination of the two. Members voted Tuesday to find money for the bus route by cutting more from its budget.

The tax increase would have paid for more than just the Beaver Creek route, but council members said they hadn’t yet come up with the perfect formula to pay for other routes to places like Wal-Mart, Buffalo Ridge and possibly Wildridge.

“I worry about trying to pass something this year in this economic climate,” said Councilwoman Kristi Ferraro. “Before we go to the voters want to have a very good handle on exactly what we need.”

The town and the Beaver Creek Resort Company had co-funded a survey earlier this summer that found registered Avon voters supported a small tax increase to pay for more bus routes.

The Beaver Creek Resort Company spent roughly $60,000 running the ski shuttle without the town’s help in the 2008-09 ski season. With the town and the company running the service together, each agency needs to come up with more than $40,000.

The decision means that Town Manager Larry Brooks has some number crunching to do – he’s already cut 14 town positions and town employees are each taking one unpaid day off per month.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that coming up with 40-some-thousand dollars is impossible, but I’m also not going to tell you that it will not be painless,” Brooks said.

The town council agreed to research a ballot question for next year. Town staff will also explore the feasibility of a general improvement district – a specific area within the town that would generate the taxes needed.

While added bus service throughout the town is something the council recognizes as important, members agreed the most important service for now was the Beaver Creek route.

“I think the Beaver Creek-Avon connection is a critical part of the identity (of the town and the resort),” said Mayor Ron Wolfe.

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