Editorial: Is new tax really the answer?
Vail CO, Colorado
We’re not ready to weigh in with a thumbs up or down on Vail’s bid for a new tax on construction materials. The town’s voters will decide that come November. Here are a few observations as we, and more significantly the voters, contemplate the proposal:
– Vail makes up a 10th of Eagle County’s population, and has nearly half as much tax revenue as the county. How do those poorer towns with higher populations manage to get by while Vail officials show their empty pockets and fret about estimated shortfalls approaching $30 million?
– The town that subsidized pinwheels to the tune of $94,000, the $1.7 million (and counting) fountain at Seibert Circle, $350,000 playground feature and the like may not be spending all that much in the greater scheme. But spending like this stands out as symbols of an unsettling extravagance at roughly the same time officials plead poverty.
– Now the county’s richest town by far has decided it needs more tax revenue. Taxing construction materials seems to make the most sense.
– Town leaders, and others, argue the tax comes out essentially to a wash since communities where the materials are purchased must send Vail’s tax to Vail. But the developers and construction professionals obviously see a rise in their costs if the tax passes. Somebody’s wrong on this one.
– The town taxes baby food but not roof shingles, as Councilman Greg Moffet pointed out. How fair is that?
– Eagle and Gypsum have the same tax and growth has only accelerated in both towns since they imposed their construction use assessments. What’s the big deal, really?
There’s a lot to think about, including how a town so flush can possibly be facing such a shortfall in funds. Some rethinking of priorities might be in order before reaching for the next easy tax. That’s a message the voters should weigh carefully. If Vail’s broke, God help the rest of the valley.
” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board