Budget is Vail Town Council’s top concern in 2010 | VailDaily.com

Budget is Vail Town Council’s top concern in 2010

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL – As the Vail Town Council has chipped away at a daunting list of potential agendas for the upcoming year, members mostly agree on a set of top three priorities that largely revolve around the town budget and economy.

The Vail Town Council plans to refine the priorities at its Tuesday afternoon work session meeting. Two of the top three priorities prove the town’s budget challenges will continue throughout at least 2011.

Town Manager Stan Zemler asked council members to rank their top three priorities in order via e-mail in the last two weeks. The answers ranked the town’s budget and capital management as the town’s highest priority, with parking/transportation and economic development coming in second and third respectively.

Councilman Andy Daly said the budget is critical, especially with a $4 million shortfall that hits the town in the 2011 budget and continues for the next three to four years.

“Better that we begin to address it now through efforts to grow income and/or reducing expenses since our need for our reserves for maintaining capital infrastructure, as identified in our 5-year forecast, indicates substantial shortfalls by year five with no new major capital projects included,” Daly wrote to Zemler on March 1.

Councilwoman Susie Tjossem said the town has to plan for budget and capital project reductions immediately.

“Only spend on have-to-haves – eliminate nice-to-haves and department pet projects,” Tjossem wrote to Zemler on Feb. 23.

The list members plan to go over Tuesday include ranking capital projects, reducing operating costs for a more sustainable budget and including operating costs in the town’s real estate transfer tax fund as general operating expenses. These topics are all listed as part of the town’s top priority of budget and capital management.

Parking and transportation, the town’s second top priority, include plans to look for new parking in town. That includes finishing a Ford Park parking study and a Lionshead parking structure study. The town also plans to finish “Frontage Road issues” with the Colorado Department of Transportation, meaning the town should know this year whether it would take over ownership of the Frontage Roads from the state.

Some council members’ ideas include widening South Frontage Road between Ford Park and Lionshead to increase parking there immediately, and a plan to move the tennis facility to the Vail Golf Course in order to open up more surface parking at Ford Park.

Mayor Dick Cleveland wants to use the $4.3 million given to the town for parking by Vail Resorts to build more parking as soon as possible. He also wants the town to work with the county to find a way to permanently fund the ECO bus system.

Nearly all council members lumped customer and guest service into the economic vitality priority, which ranked third. Zemler expects a plan detailing various projects and funding that could enhance guest experience to be ready to present to the council by July 31.

The town has listed affordable housing and environmental stewardship as the top four and five priorities. Members could decide to change things around at its meeting Tuesday afternoon, which also includes time for public comment.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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