Vail sales tax proposal appears headed for a win

Tax boost of 0.5% would add $5 to a $1,000 purchase

Election judges count ballots Tuesday at the Eagle County government building in Eagle.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Vail officials for several years have discussed creating a stable fund for housing. As of about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, Ballot Issue 2A was leading, 771 votes to 685.

Official results won’t be certified for another two weeks or so, but it looks as if the sales tax to support housing initiatives will pass.

The ballot language states that the sales-tax increase — the first rate increase since 1974 — could raise more than $4 million in its first year. The tax exempts grocery purchases. The 0.5% tax increase would add $5 to a $1,000 purchase.

The Vail Town Council earlier this year agreed to put the question to voters in the wake of a summer survey of voters. The survey, conducted by Magellan Strategies, received responses from 665 Vail voters, about half the number of people who usually participate in town elections.

The survey found that 82% of voters between the ages of 18 and 44 consider housing to be a “big problem.” Of the voters older than 65, fewer than half — 48% — agreed that housing is a big problem.

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Overall, though, a solid majority supports a housing tax.

While most public figures supported the measure, it did have opponents. At a September candidate forum, Vail Town Council candidates Niko Sayag and Jonathan Staufer both said they opposed the tax.

Sayag noted the lack of land suitable for building in town, and that he didn’t want to burden residents any more than they are. Staufer said the proposal is “far too broad” in its language.

In a Vail Daily column, longtime Vail resident Kaye Ferry wrote that her opposition stems from the tax not being only for people working in Vail.

While $4 million per year sounds like a lot of money, the tax by itself is mostly just a good start when it comes to programs. Replacing the Timber Ridge apartments has an estimated $70 million price tag.

But the tax will provide an income source to issue debt and could provide additional funds for the Vail InDEED program, which helps buy deed restrictions on existing homes.

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