Eagle County open space funding extension is going to the voters | VailDaily.com

Eagle County open space funding extension is going to the voters

EAGLE — Buoyed by poll residents that showed 81 percent of respondents supported a continuation of the Eagle County Open Space property tax, Tuesday the county commissioners unanimously voted to take the issue to the voters this November.

This fall's ballot question will ask county voters for permission to extend the existing open space property tax for 15 years beyond its current expiration in 2025. In 2002, voters approved the 1.5 mill property tax to fund the county's open space program. The tax generates approximately $4.5 million per year, and funds collected are used to acquire, maintain and permanently preserve open space countywide.

Between Wednesday, Aug. 8, and Tuesday, Aug. 14, pollsters contacted 362 community members, who were asked about their views on extending the open space tax, as well as its current and future uses.

"Eighty-one percent support when you are putting something on the ballot is extraordinary," said Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney during discussion of the issue Tuesday. "It is about the public's spaces and they are felling good about them."

Commissioner Jill Ryan complimented the Eagle County Open Space program, the open space advisory committee and the Eagle Valley and Aspen Valley land trust groups for all their preservation efforts.

"We know there is more to do around open space," Ryan said. "We also know that with open space, the deals take a while. These are complex negotiations."

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If the public doesn't support continuation of the open space tax, Ryan noted the long-term nature of the work means the county's challenge will be to begin planning how to wind down its open space program. But with the public support evidenced by the polling and a recent survey effort, Ryan said residents have indicated they don't want the open space program to expire.

"I am excited to vote to put this on the ballot," Ryan said.