Dillon continues talks on adding Keystone | VailDaily.com

Dillon continues talks on adding Keystone

Christine McManus

An annexation of Keystone is still on Dillon’s mind, even if it’s not on the minds of Keystone residents or ski resort officials.

The past few months, Dillon residents included annexation efforts in the drafted update of their town’s master plan.

The primary reason Dillon would annex the Keystone area is for potential tax revenue generated by the ski resort. Some residents who have wanted additional government services in the far eastern edge of the Highway 6 valley are interested in the option to be part of Dillon.

However, not everyone in the Keystone area wants urban-level services in that unincorporated part of the county.

Keystone and Summit Cove residents would have to initiate the potential annexation.

Although the issue surfaced last year, this time the discussion has come up as part of the update to the Dillon master plan this spring.

“The county does what it can out there. But there’s no mayor or manager. None of the county commissioners live out in the Keystone area. You don’t have anyone to go to except the CEO of the resort,” said Theresa Worsham, Dillon’s town planner, who is also a Keystone area resident. “Keystone pays its taxes and the money might go to a road in Heeney, for example.”

The most recent statistics indicate the resort sent $1.7 million to the county in 2002, said Linda Gregory, county budget director. That’s 42 percent of the county’s sales tax revenues that year. Even with all other revenue sources, such as property taxes and fees, Keystone contributed 8.8 percent of the county’s total budget for 2002.

Last summer, Dillon town manager Jack Benson said an annexation might entail an additional 2 percent sales tax on top of Keystone’s existing 2 percent sales tax.

Plus, an additional property tax of $39 per $100,000 of actual value every year would send an estimated total of $4.5 million in taxes to Dillon coffers.

If Dillon took on the revenues, it would also have to take on responsibilities currently managed by the county. Road maintenance is one issue in particular that the county commissioners often hear about from Keystone residents.

Just because Dillon folks are discussing whether the Keystone and Summit Cove areas could be included within Dillon boundaries, doesn’t mean it will automatically happen, Worsham said.

In fact, there were enough protests from Keystone residents when the issue came up last year that some people are under the impression that the issue is dead and gone.

“The town couldn’t really tell us what kind of benefits we would see if we joined the town,” said Keystone resident Bob Follett. “Plus Keystone Resort could back out of a potential annexation, and without the sales tax, it wouldn’t be worth it to Dillon really.”

No documents, commitments or cost-benefit analyses have been submitted for review or petition much less for a vote.

Dillon residents and people with Keystone ties met several times to talk about a potential annexation the past several months. The discussions were part of Dillon’s master plan update process.

“I don’t think there was anyone who said, ‘Absolutely, let’s do this,'” Worsham said. “The annexation focus group was an exploration committee made up of mixed interests.”

There’s a possibility only parts of Keystone would be gulped by the town. There’s also a possibility Keystone and Summit Cove could incorporate into their own town or towns, with an elected town council, snow plows and a town hall.

Benson said Dillon and Keystone officials eventually will split the cost of the study to weigh the finance issues of annexation. Doubling the town’s size would add a property tax for Keystone property owners, Benson said in a meeting last summer.

“No one is in a hurry for Dillon to annex Keystone,” Benson said. “But the issue is not done and gone.”

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