Eagle Valley Regional Transit Authority starts collecting sales tax as of Jan. 1
It's going to take some time to set up the new authority's operations
Voters in November agreed to create the Eagle Valley Regional Transit Authority. But there’s a lot of work to do before even the first pledges from backers come to pass.
The Eagle Valley Transportation Authority Board of directors starts regular meetings Jan. 11. The meeting is set for 12:30 p.m. at Avon Town Hall.
For more information, go to eaglevalleyrta.org.
The authority will start collecting its 0.5% sales tax as of Jan. 1. Authority Board Chair Amy Phillips said other board members and representatives from ECO Transit have been checking local businesses to ensure they’ll start charging the new levy. That money will flow into the authority’s coffers directly from the state, which will collect and distribute the funds.
Eagle County Finance Director Jill Klosterman in an email wrote that the first funds from the new tax probably won’t be in the authority’s bank account until March.
Phillips noted that while ECO Transit is an Eagle County department, the authority is a separate entity, with an independent board creating budgets and setting policy.
For now, ECO Transit will continue to collect its own 0.5% sales tax, first approved by county voters in the 1990s. That tax will be collected all over the county and its towns. Keeping the ECO Transit sales tax in place will allow the agency to continue to provide service at current levels. Those service levels will continue in Gypsum — where voters rejected the authority ballot issue — after the authority begins operations.
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Bill Ray, who ran communications for ballot issue backers, said Gypsum could at some point see service improvements, particularly if the authority runs a connector route between Eagle and Gypsum. That route was in the plan presented to voters.
But building a transit authority from scratch will require a lot of work before any of pre-election promises bear fruit.
The first order of business is to set up a plan. The authority’s board is set — consisting of elected officials from Eagle County and all the communities that voted to participate.
Phillips said that board has already held one organizational meeting, but regular monthly meetings will begin Jan. 11. That meeting is set for 12:30 p.m. at Avon Town Hall. Phillips said people can watch live via Zoom, and High Five Access Media will replay the meetings a few days afterward.
Phillips said having Zoom available for meetings will allow the public to view the proceedings. But, she added, if a member or two happens to be out of town, that person can participate remotely.
Phillips said the meetings may be held in different locations from time to time. But Avon seems to be a central meeting place, especially if transportation officials from Vail or Beaver Creek need to attend.
Those first meetings will establish a framework for how the authority will ultimately do its job of improving transit in the valley, and fulfilling the promises made to voters.
“The first year’s going to be interesting,” Phillips said. “We can’t just snap our fingers” to start expanding service.
Phillips added she hopes one of the first pledges to be honored is providing fare-free service between Edwards and Vail.
“If we can get that done by next ski season, I’ll be happy,” she said.