Conference center tax hike heads to ballot |

Conference center tax hike heads to ballot

Special to the Daily An artist's design for the proposed Vail conference center. Whether the tax increase needed to help pay to build the facility will be on the November ballot should be decided Tuesday night.

VAIL – Let the campaign begin.The Vail Town Council Tuesday voted 6-1 – with Diana Donovan opposed – to ask voters to raise the town’s lodging tax to pay for a new conference center. Voters in 2002 narrowly approved a combination of sales and lodging taxes to build a conference center. But after almost three years worth of research, a town advisory committee determined that the money raised by the 2002 tax increases isn’t enough to pay for and operate a center.What was expected to be a 30-minute meeting turned into center supporters’ first campaign event. The council room was full, with most audience members wearing stickers reading “Yes! on Vail’s conference center. Make it happen!”Some of the people wearing stickers asked the council to reverse a decision the council made earlier this year to make the Nov. 8 vote an up-or-down vote on the whole project.”If the voters say ‘no,’ you should still build it within the budget you have,” said local resident Michael Cacioppo.A no vote could also prompt lawsuits over refunds of the nearly $10 million in sales and lodging taxes collected so far, Cacioppo said.Rob LeVine, general manager of the Antlers Lodge and a longtime backer of the conference center plan, agreed.

“We have a large group of people in this room tonight who support this, and they’ll support it with or without the (build it or kill it) language. But please, take it out.”But the language stayed in, mostly out of a desire to compromise, said Councilman Kent Logan.”There’s a body of opinion that says ‘We don’t want it,'” Logan said. “Rather than have another frustrating, drawn-out discussion, this is an attempt to finally make a decision on this project.”Staff writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613 or at day:

Tuesday, Nov. 8===============================By the numbers$64.7 million: “Maximum” price estimate1.5 percent: Maximum additional lodging tax

$5 million plus $1: Cash in the center’s reserve fund that might lower the new lodging tax from about .79 percent$5 million minus $1: Cash in the center’s reserve fund that might raise the new tax up to its maximum of 1.5 percent11.8 percent: Current town lodging tax12.59 percent: Lodging tax if increase is passed and .79 percent is collected13.3 percent: Lodging tax if full 1.5 percent increase is imposed=================Vail, Colorado

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