Government Tracker: Can Vail ease locals’ tax burden?
July 25, 2016
Board: Vail Town Council, Tuesday afternoon and evening meetings.
Present: Kevin Foley, Greg Moffet, Jenn Bruno, Mayor Dave Chapin, Kim Langmaid, Jen Mason, Dick Cleveland.
Issue: Possible tax or other relief for locals.
Who they talked to: Town Manager Stan Zemler, Town Attorney Matt Mire.
How the discussion went: The town government has been asked by a town resident to look into some sort of relief from the town's sales tax on grocery purchases.
Zemler said that Fort Collins and Snowmass are among the state's cities that offer some sort of rebate on grocery sales taxes. But, he added, creating a system would require a lot of staff time and resources to create and manage.
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Moffet said that "in theory," he'd favor such a rebate. A sales tax on groceries is "an incredibly regressive tax — it hits the poorest people hardest," he said.
Chapin said he understands the point of some sort of relief for town residents, but wondered if there isn't a more simple way to get the job done.
Council members also voiced some support for finding a way to exempt local residents from a possible property tax increase that would help fund a town housing program.
What's next: Probably more discussion.
Issue: Vail's progress on meeting its goal to become a "sustainable resort."
Who they talked to: Town environmental sustainability manager Kristen Bertuglia, town resident Bobby Lipnick.
What they talked about: While the discussion ranged between several topics, just about everyone agreed that Vail won't make a big dent in its greenhouse gas emissions as long as it puts snowmelt on a number of town streets.
Bertuglia said that system would need some sort of offset in order for the town to meet its goals.
But, Moffet said, heating some streets does save fuel, equipment and manpower.
"Wall Street should be headed, but we could run a plow up and down Meadow Drive," he said.
What's next: Bertuglia will work on an action plan, and Lipnick will continue to work with a town sustainability task force, a group that has among its goals getting more residents involved in sustainability projects.
Issue: Review of a recent cultural exchange trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Who they talked to: Local restaurateurs Matt Morgan and Brian Nolan.
What they talked about: Nolan and Morgan said they were grateful to have been members of the Vail delegation to San Miguel de Allende in the spring of this year.
"It was a terrific experience," Morgan said. "It opened my eyes to a beautiful part of Mexico." Morgan added that he believes there are some true cultural and educational exchanges possible with a relationship between the two cities.
Morgan added that he was spotted in Mexico by several people who frequent his Vail restaurant, Sweet Basil.
Chapin said San Miguel de Allende is a "brand we should be aligned with."
Langmaid said she'd like to investigate some sort of internship exchange, especially regarding environmentally-related work.
"A sustainable destination project would be great for them," she said.
What's next: There will probably be more exchanges.