Rec district scales back tax initiative
Daily staff writer
Voters in the Vail Recreation District will be asked just one taxing question instead of three on May 4.
The district board last week approved scaling back a wide-ranging request for tax hikes to just one that will cover the debt service on a $3.4 million bond that paid for a 2001 refrigeration system improvement and safety upgrade program at Dobson Ice Arena.
Executive Director Dennis Stein said the increase would raise the district’s mill levy by just more than 0.5 mills, which will raise just more than $280,000 in the first year. According to figures provided by district bond consultant Stan Bernstein, the new levy would raises taxes by about $41 per year on a home valued at $1 million. District taxes on that home now run about $219 per year.
Stein said the additional tax revenue would allow the district to free up cash for other projects. For the first two years, money now being spent on debt service would help the district get through its lean winter months, and enable the district to get by without the cost of issuing “tax anticipation warrants,” which the district repays with revenues collected later in the fiscal year. After the first two years, district officials plan to use money now being used for debt service for capital improvements.
The recreation district board had originally planned to ask for voter approval of a plan that included tax increases to pay for the bond debt on the ice arena as well as two new bonds. One, with an estimated cost of $3.5 million, would have funded a renovation program at the Vail Golf Course and created an indoor recreation facility at Red Sandstone Elementary School. The other, with an estimated cost of $4 million, would have paid for an extensive renovation at the Vail Golf Clubhouse and Nordic Center.
“We’d really like to turn that into a year-round center,” said board chairwoman Julie Hansen.
In addition, the golf course renovations are seen as a way to bring players back to a facility now more than 30 years old.
While the district’s more ambitious requests are on hold, they’re still alive. Stein said the district may ask voters to approve those projects in November, or later.
Hansen said she would have preferred to see the entire package go to voters in May, but added she and other board members will now work to persuade district voters to approve the first tax question.
Governments are prohibited by law from campaigning for or against ballot issues, but board members can campaign as individuals or work as part of independent advocacy groups.
Hansen said no such group is yet in the works for the May ballot issue. “We haven’t gotten that far yet,” she said.
In addition to the tax question, voters in the Vail Recreation District will select two board members May 4. The terms of board members Hermann Staufer and Tom Saalfeld expire this year. Neither incumbent has announced plans to seek another term.
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