Council seeks input on proposed tax hike
VAIL — The Vail Town Council is seeking public input on a potential November ballot question to increase the town’s current 4 percent lift ticket tax. The discussion will take place during the Tuesday evening town council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers. The item is listed as 6.1 on the council agenda under action items and will include opportunities for public comment.
The possibility of asking Vail’s electorate to consider increasing the lift tax was initially posed by council member Dick Cleveland as a way to fund the construction of additional parking in town.
Vail’s lift tax was first imposed by ordinance in 1966 as an occupation and business tax on places of business operating a ski lift or ski tow. This was the same time a similar 2 percent occupation and business tax was imposed on lodges, restaurants, liquor stores and retailers. In May 1992, the name of the tax was changed to Ski Area Lift Ticket Admissions Tax and the rate increased to 4 percent. Revenues from the tax are used to support the town’s general fund.
If the council wishes to set a November ballot question for a lift tax increase, then the ballot language would need to be adopted by via resolution no later than the Sept. 6 council meeting.
The ballot question must include an estimate of the additional amount of tax revenue that would be collected by the town in the first fiscal year, 2017. The estimate must be high enough that the revenues do not exceed the estimate because any revenues collected in excess of the estimate must be returned to the taxpayers.
Annual revenue from the lift tax collected in 2015 was $4.7 million, and has averaged $4 million annually over the past five years. Lift tax is consistently among the town’s top five revenue sources, with sales tax, real estate transfer tax and parking ranking higher.
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.