Candidates debate town’s strengths, weaknesses
What are two of Vail’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Mark Gordon: Two of Vail’s greatest strengths are the people and the mountain. Two of our greatest weaknesses are the fact that we are becoming a fractured community and economic issues.
Bill Jewitt: Our strengths include great, un-tapped abilities, vision and drive of the members of our community as well as being situated at the base of the greatest ski mountain in North America. Our weaknesses include a desire to want it all now and an inclination to be satisfied with the way we have done things in the past.
Kent Logan: One: still No. 1 ski resort. Two: Investors willing to put $1 billion into town. Weaknesses are the same as threats
Greg Moffet: Strengths: the ski mountain and our great diverse community – just look at our volunteer base. Weaknesses: aging infrastructure and bed base. Our current lack of an off- and shoulder-season attraction. The Conference Center will help with this.
Paul Rondeau: Strengths: The name Vail, the mountain, the people. Weaknesses: being jaded, newcomers without a sense of history.
Kim Ruotolo: Strengths: 1. Services provided by the town of Vail are second to none – parks, police, and fire departments, Vail Recreation District, library, landscaping, snow removal, etc. 2. The commitment of the people of this town to its constant improvement is also a great strength. Weaknesses: 1. The continuing loss of full-time, year-round residents is a crisis – we must do more to encourage people to stay in Vail. 2. In the current economic climate, our reliance on sales tax as a primary source of revenue is difficult.
Rod Slifer: Strengths: a great and beautiful place. Its citizens are its greatest assets. Weaknesses: we are our worst critics and must become more positive. Potential long-range impact of increased traffic and congestion on Interstate 70
If elected, what two improvements or changes would you make to the town?
Jewitt: Improve community trust in Town Council. We need to demonstrate that we understand the problems facing various groups, be they homeowners, workers or businesses, and that we have a clear vision of the steps necessary to solve these problems. We must invest in Vail. Without an economically successful Vail we will never have funds to provide the amenities that we all want.
Logan: 1. Balance the budget to a 50-50 ratio. 2. Cut the fat from the budget.
Moffet: Other than what’s already in the works: indoor recreation center to serve all ages, visitors and locals and substantial reduction in I-70 noise.
Rondeau: With the new town manager, initiate an ongoing improvement program. Re-engineer council meetings – start evening meetings at 5 p.m. with TV for all decision topics, including contributions. Reserve work sessions for site visits and true “roll-up-the-sleeves” issues, use a chalkboard and hold informal, “no decision” gatherings.
Ruotolo: I would encourage the building of a fire station in West Vail. I would encourage the development of “middle management/family sized” housing.
Slifer: Improve communication between the council and public. With new town manager and new council, move forward with energy, inclusiveness and have some fun along the way.
Gordon: I would work to motivate the citizens to take a more active role in their government and I would increase the amount of communication between the Town Council and the community. As a Town Council member, I will always make myself available to any member of the community who needs to discuss the issues facing us. I hope to instill a sense of trust between the community and the Town Government.
Do you support tax increment financing (TIF) for Lionshead?
Logan: Town condemnation of private property can be useful in diverting revenue collected on Vail’s property and sales tax base by other jurisdictions, but must be used very selectively.
Moffet: Yes, it’s painless and it keeps the entire increment in Vail rather than sending it down valley.
Rondeau: Yes, with reservations. Council will look at it as a free lunch, free money, but there is no such thing. There are strings attached. It will require hiring lots of consultants.
Ruotolo: Yes, but only if it is supported by a majority of business owners in the Lionshead-core area and only if the “blighted” designation can be accomplished honorably.
Slifer: Yes, it is the only way the town can afford the required infrastructure improvements. It is also a proven method, having been used in many communities.
Gordon: Yes. I believe that tax increment financing is an innovative way to help the Town pay for the renovation of Lionshead. The property values will dramatically increase when construction is finished and the additional assessed values will pay for the work. Many forward-looking municipalities across the country have used TIF successfully.
Jewitt: Yes, tax increment financing captures the additional property tax that would not have existed were it not for the infrastructure upgrades provided by the town.
Note: The eighth candidate, Dave McDougall, did not turn in his responses.