Council deadlocks on conference center support
VAIL ” A vote of support for the Vail conference center from the Town Council ended in a tie Tuesday night.
The vote was 3-3, with Mayor Rod Slifer, Greg Moffet and Kim Ruotolo voting to support Tuesday’s conference center ballot question and Diana Donovan, Dick Cleveland and Farrow Hitt voting against.
Kent Logan, who has supported the conference center tax hike, was not at the meeting.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on a lodging tax increase of up to 1.5 percent to help pay for the proposed center.
The facility will help the town’s economy in the off-seasons, Moffet said.
“The conference center will bring people here at a time when we have excess capacity,” Moffet said.
Hitt said there are too many unknowns. “At the end of the day I can’t get my arms around this and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to vote for it.'”
The town never discussed what the best use of the site would be, Donovan said. The Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board and the Colorado Department of Transportation haven’t approved the project yet, which could add to the $64.7 million cost, she said. And the projected operating losses are a risk to taxpayers, she said.
“To move forward with this decision could well be the worst decision Vail ever makes,” Donovan said.
Residents on both sides of the issue urged council members to vote their way.
Gorsuch Ltd.’s David Gorsuch said the council needs to take a chance and move ahead with the project. “I’m glad the founding fathers didn’t have a committee to figure out if Vail would be a success,” Gorsuch said.
Carol Alleman of the Galatyn Lodge said guests won’t want to pay the extra lodging tax. “Why are you sticking it to the lodging community?” she said.
Supporters expect benefits to extend to stores and restaurants, too.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.