Do Vail’s contributions to county pay off?
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – What does the town of Vail get back from Eagle County – it’s a question at least one Vail Town Council member wants answered.
The town of Vail is the second largest revenue generator in the county, behind unincorporated Eagle County, which includes both the Vail and Beaver Creek resorts.
Council member Kevin Foley has been outspoken on the subject of whether Vail gets its money’s worth from the county, especially about the fact that the town of Vail bears all the impacts from Vail Mountain traffic, yet receives none of the sales tax revenue from on-mountain sales.
“A portion of this tax money should come back into the community that’s bearing the brunt of the impacts,” Foley said at the council’s visioning meeting in January. “The people on the mountain don’t think they’re in unincorporated Eagle County, they’re still in Vail.”
If Vail Mountain’s sales tax revenues were part of the town of Vail’s revenues and not the county’s, it still wouldn’t make the town of Vail the largest contributor, said Kris Friel, county spokeswoman.
Eagle County collects a 1 percent sales tax – a full 1 percent from unincorporated areas and .85 percent from the municipalities. The county returns .15 percent to each municipality.
The town of Vail made up for 28 percent of the county’s sales tax collections in 2009, bringing the county $2,994,222, Friel said.
Judy Camp, the town of Vail’s finance director, estimates that Vail should bring in $8.4 million in property taxes for the county in 2010, with another $3 million in sales taxes, for a total of about $11.4 million in revenue to the county in 2010.
The problem with quantifying how much of that money is pumped back into Vail is that many county services are for the entire county, and there isn’t a way to break it down definitively, Friel said.
Things like the airport, the county assessor, clerk and recorder, the Eagle County jail and courts, health and human services, the county landfill, public health fund and the treasurer’s office are just a few of the services provided to the entire county.
Friel said breaking the numbers down by Vail’s population or Vail’s land area wouldn’t give a solid dollar amount showing how much of the services are provided to the town.
“If you break it down by resident, it’s one amount,” Friel said. “But by square miles, it’s another amount.”
Some areas of the county naturally benefit more than others, Friel said. One example is the $60 million spent on airport improvements in the last two years – improvements that primarily benefit incoming guests to Vail and Beaver Creek, she said.
Foley wants to see a breakdown of the money spent because he said the town just isn’t getting enough back. He said the town hardly ever uses the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, and there aren’t senior services in Vail or county snow plows.
Foley said he just wants to make sure he keeps mentioning his concerns in hopes of getting more for the town of Vail.
There are a lot of areas where county and municipal programs overlap, Friel said, such as the county’s housing program that undoubtedly houses Vail workers.
The Sheriff’s Office is another area where there might not be a huge presence in Vail, but the Sheriff’s Office does collaborate with Vail Police and also provides enforcement on Vail Mountain.
“How do you quantify those services,” Friel said.
Foley said he wants to see more numbers and isn’t giving up on trying to get Vail Mountain’s sales tax collections into the town of Vail’s revenue stream. He also said there could come a time for Vail to consider becoming its own county.
“I think the town and county of Vail has a nice ring to it,” Foley said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.