Dialogue open between county and towns | VailDaily.com

Dialogue open between county and towns

Veronica Whitney

Following a confrontational meeting last month, dialogue between the towns and Eagle County has started to flow, county officials said.

Last week, County Commissioner Michael Gallagher met with Avon Mayor Buzz Reynolds Jr. and Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz to discuss possible projects the county could fund next year.

“We’re trying to re-establish the meetings with the town representatives as we used to do,” Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad said. “The first meetings tend to be heated.”

In April, representatives of the towns of Avon and Vail and the Beaver Creek Metro District asked the county commissioners to reduce the towns’ sales tax contributions by about $15 million for services they don’t use. Another concern of the towns is the distribution of the county’s capital improvement fund.

“I recommended they (Reynolds and Kurz) put their requests (for projects) in writing soon. The county is getting ready to start next year’s budget process,” Gallagher said.

Budget development for 2004 starts this summer – the final budget is passed in December. Every year, the Capital Improvement Committee makes recommendations on requests for capital improvement projects. The county commissioners then pick the projects, which Ingstad also reviews.

“We are doing it the right way by meeting individually with each town,” Ingstad said. “We’re starting to talk instead of having confrontational meetings. By meeting individually, they can be more open.”

Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks said the county already has invited him to participate in the Capital Improvements Committee meetings.

“We’re grateful to participate. The best government comes out of good dialogue,” Brooks said. “At this point, we want a seat on the table.

In the end, the county establishes its own priorities.”

Ingstad said most likely the county will be able to fund several projects proposed by the towns.

“There’s a significant amount of the budget (about $4 million) that goes to capital improvements every year,” he said. “This year, we put more than that.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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