Letters: Vail needs use tax
Vail CO, Colorado
Use tax makes sense
I just returned home from my visit to Vail’s town hall for early voting. I voted yes for the construction use tax and I wanted to share with you the reasons why.
Revenue shortfalls are not new to this town. When I was on the council in the 90s, we addressed the problem by cutting staff. It affected service levels. The 2003 council put a mill levy on the ballot to address the problem. Voters rejected it. We continue to have shortfalls, and a new revenue source must be found.
To generate the same amount of dollars as the proposed construction use tax would, the current mill levy on property tax would need to be increased by 5.25 mills bringing the total to 11 mills or a 112-percent increase. Development can pay a one-time use tax on materials or we could potentially increase property taxes forever. I would rather pay one time.
According to the language on the ballot, the money raised can only be used for capital projects. The resolution passed by council to put this on the ballot excluded employee housing from the tax. The new council will set parameters for other exemptions and prioritize capital expenditures.
Today, Vail has a 4-percent sales tax on all tangible products. Currently developers are the only group not paying this tax. Every time I go to Ace or Home Depot, I pay a tax on the materials to fix my house. So should they.
A construction use tax is fair and equitable. Development has impacts. I urge you to vote yes. Vail’s future depends on you.
As for myself, I am looking forward to a West Vail Fire Station, newly paved roads, and a town that can meet its community needs.
Former Vail mayor
Newbury a ‘strong voice’
I would like to voice my strong support for Kim Newbury in her effort to be re-elected to the Town Council for the Town of Vail.
I have been involved in Vail politics for several years (in roles ranging from casual observer to invested activist), and I was intimately involved with Vail Citizens for Change during 2005 election. The other candidates we endorsed at that time ran on a pro-employee-housing and pro-business platform, and, since their election to office, the Town Council has made great strides in both of these areas. This success is reflected in the growing local economy and new housing regulations that are helping to bring families back to Vail.
I work on the Solaris redevelopment. Kim was a strong voice during our negotiations with the Town Council and her opinions influenced every major decision concerning the project. She played an integral role in negotiating a development agreement that requires Solaris to provide more public amenities than any single development project in Vail’s history, and her efforts helped the Town Council change the vision of Crossroads from an aging eyesore to an enduring community asset. Kim’s ability to balance business and community needs is one of the things that makes her such an ideal public servant. She understands how to walk the line between developers and politicians and strike a bargain benefiting both sides.
During her first term, I watched as Kim learned from tenured council members like Mayor Slifer and Councilman Moffet. Their knowledge, experience, and big-picture outlook have broadened her perspective and helped her become an excellent policy maker in her own right. Her experience and willingness to learn will facilitate the transition between the current and future Town Council.
The Town of Vail is in the midst of a historic renaissance and the stakes are only getting higher. Kim Newbery’s experience, pragmatic disposition and proven negotiating skills are exactly what Vail needs to promote community objectives and encourage responsible growth.
Proper has money savvy
As my fellow Vail residents are deciding which Town Council candidates most deserve their votes, I’d like to call your attention to the reasons for voting for one of our primary, top choices: Scott Proper.
Youth, business and financial experience, Vail governance experience, formal education, extensive public service, and a genuine love of Vail are a unique combination of qualifications that Scott Proper will provide as a Vail Town Council member. Scott, vice president of a local bank, and his wife, a practicing attorney, identify with young Vail families, and Scott has already proven his devotion to Vail issues by his past and current public service. Scott’s participation in our community includes his successful and effective public service on the town’s Design Review, planning, conference center, and Recreation District boards, commissions and committees. Scott is also president-elect of the Vail Rotary Club.
His finance business experience coupled with his Yale University education are additional impressive qualifications that will continue to be critically needed on Town Council as the most experienced current councilors retire or are term-limited. Scott Proper, mature beyond his 28 years, is a thoughtful intellectual thinker who will fairly form and weigh his governance decisions by using his experience and by listening to others. Scott is also a very accomplished alpine and telemark skier ” avocational backgrounds and loves that further enable Scott to appreciate and balance the resort, environmental, and community interests and issues facing Vail. We are fortunate to have this bright, young, professional, experienced, dedicated citizen offering to serve us as a Vail councilperson.
Further information on Scott, his views and background, and his family are included on his extensive Web site, http://www.scottproperforvail.com.
I encourage you to view it, participate in Scott’s blog, and to join me in voting for Scott Proper for Vail Town Council. I am confident that Scott will represent us well.
Bob and Ann Louthan
Not a Second Munich
The time has come to wake up. The upcoming conference on the Middle East must not turn into a Second Munich.
In 1938, the European powers held a “peace conference” in Munich. They came away thinking they had achieved peace. In fact, the Munich Agreement sacrificed Czechoslovakia as an appeasement to Hitler. As we all now know, this emboldened Hitler and began World War II.
I greatly fear that just as the appeasement of Hitler precipitated WWII, so will appeasement in a Middle East conference lead to World War III. Once again, the Jews will be the primary victims. It is no secret that the Arabs’ sole and consistent purpose remains the destruction of Israel. The negotiations will have nothing to do with an Arab desire for peace. It will only strengthen their desire to wipe Israel off the map.
After Sept. 11, the world became aware of a radicalized Islam whose goal was world domination. It should be abundantly clear that what’s true for Israel will be true for the West. What Arafat started, with the full support of the Arab world, is being continued by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab states ” whether covertly or overtly.
We must end this worthless appeasement. Another Arab state will not bring peace. Rather, the radicals will be encouraged to start an even bigger war.
Remember all kids
Family Connections would like to thank the school board members and candidates who generously gave of their time and spirit last night at our Eagle County School District School Board forum to listen to the candidates’ views, and highlight the needs of the special education community. Connie Kincaid, Jeanne McQueeney, Margaret Olle and Keith Thompson expressed their concerns and care for the education of ALL Eagle County students including the 10 percent of students with Individualized Education Plans.
Bonnie Pottorff, the district’s director of special education and Sharon Thompson, of the district’s Edwards Elementary Preschool, also were on hand to lend their support and voice of experience during our question-and-answer exchange.
Our grassroots group works to support our families with children with developmental disabilities. We look forward to working closely with our new school board and our district educators to shape a positive future for special education in our community.
Be aware of the facts
When parents place their child in the Charter Academy lottery, they should be aware of these facts:
” Charter school administrators decide how to allocate their own per-pupil operating revenue. They have the option of offering specials like P.E., art, and music, but some charter schools don’t because they choose to pay more teachers and offer smaller classes.
” The Eagle County Charter Academy has 16 kids per class, four to six fewer students than the smallest classes in any other Eagle County School District elementary or middle school, and 10 to 12 fewer in some cases.
” The Eagle County Charter Academy encourages/requires parent fundraising to cover extras that their per-pupil operatin revenue can’t cover due to higher salary costs for low class size. In other public schools, all programs and services are funded with a higher number of students per classroom.
” Eagle County Charter Academy children are taught in modular buildings, each with a number of exits for safety.
” Although Board of Education member Mary Ann Stavney states that the charter school “has fully funded its temporary buildings for 14 years,” the fact is that the Eagle County Charter Academy received approximately $400,000 in state grants for capital funding (buildings), and has used that to pay mortgages on their modulars. Most Colorado charter schools use around 15 percent of their per-pupil operating revenue for facilities costs. The Eagle County Charter Academy offers limited class sizes and specials like P.E. that necessitate an indoor gym disguised as a safe community center.
” The Eagle County Charter Academy pays ONE DOLLAR per year to lease the district land they occupy.
” The Eagle County Charter Academy administrators apparently violate safety codes for school assemblies, when they have the option of using other nearby district school buildings for events (Berry Creek Middle School?).
” The Eagle County Charter Academy’s population is 92 percent Anglo and approximately 99 percent English-speaking because native-Spanish speakers choose to attend neighborhood schools, not the charter.
” The Eagle County Charter Academy’s CSAP scores are good, but comparing apples-to-apples, the charter school scores are no higher than the English-speaking populations in the rest of the district. You can view disaggregated scores on the Colorado Department of Education Web site.
A child can get a great education in ANY school in the Eagle County School District because a great education comes from great teachers. If a parent chooses and gets into the Charter Academy, he/she should be fully aware of how a charter school operates. Those who have been there for some time should re-educate themselves.
Just to be clear
I feel it is important to correct an error I made in my guest column in Monday’s Vail Daily. In that article I say “At least 58 percent of the public’s understanding …”. Ironically, it could be misleading. That figure comes from the June 2006 Eagle County School District Bond Survey, so I should have said “At least 58 percent of the surveyed public’s understanding …” or “… surveyed voters’ understanding …” My sincere apologies for any confusion this may have caused.