Now they tell us …
On Nov. 1, the surcharge increased from 4.7 percent to 5.9 percent. As you might imagine, some residents of the faux community are less than pleased with the unilateral move. No elections there; it really is a company town.
A frustration here is that this bit of news came after Vail’s voters approved small increases in their lodging and sales tax to help fund the construction of a conference center on land donated by Vail Resorts across the street from Lionshead.
Funny that this didn’t come up in the campaign before election day, which Vail Resorts was quite active in. That difference of 44 votes might well have swung the other way with this nugget of information. Not being a governmental entity, of course, the company doesn’t have to tell us. And a conference center is still a good idea for Vail. But you can understand the consternation among critics and why longtimers tend toward skepticism of company claims.
Recession and 9/11 have been rough on the conference business, which is not a profit center by itself. And Vail’s center on paper can handle operating at a loss for three years before breaking even – while attracting business to town that would not otherwise be there. But a million dollars here and a million dollars there. Pretty soon that adds up.
This bit of news makes caution among the Vail Town Council a sensible approach.
The existence of rather frightening drugs in our midst and sad reality of abuse by our young people sadly has a name: Nick Calhoun. For the 21-year-old’s death to bear meaning, our High Country society needs to come to grips with the fact that sweet as the young man was, he clearly had a substance abuse problem he had not yet licked. Nor was he the only youngster leading a lifestyle susceptible to tragedy.
Alcohol. Cocaine. Heroin. These exist, one legally, in some abundance in this resort-, every-day’s-a-party community. Nick, tragically, was the one to pay the mortal price this fall. But it’s not such an exaggeration to note that all our children are vulnerable to this scourge of mountain living.
We don’t do ourselves any favors dismissing substance abuse and the influences that help create the culture for it as something that’s just part of every community. Periodic surveys of our children show pretty clearly they deal with significant risk, both in terms of mental state and in access – even if quotes from police suggest they really don’t know the level of drug and alcohol abuse in their community.
How much more of a wake-up call do we need? D.R.