Tax moving too quickly to ballot?
VAIL – Vail’s bricks and mortar might get taxed soon just as milk and bread are.On Tuesday, the town moved forward with a plan to ask voters in November to approve a construction tax, saying Vail has missed out on millions during the recent building spurt.But the proposed tax barely passed muster among Vail council members Tuesday.”I’m a little concerned about how quickly we took this on,” said Kim Newbury, a councilwoman.The 4 percent tax would be applied to construction and building equipment used in the town of Vail. Now, those materials are exempt from Vail’s sales tax. “Work-force housing” would not be subject for the tax.Developers at the meeting also said things were moving at a fast pace.”A construction-use tax seems like a good idea, but it seems we’re moving pretty quickly,” said Keith Fernandez, president of Vail Resorts Development Co., which is developing the Ritz-Carlton Residences, the Arrabelle at Vail Square and the Vail Front Door.Proponents hope the construction-use tax will diversify the source of Vail’s money – the town now mainly relies on sales tax, which can fluctuate with good and bad snow years. The tax would reduce the town’s dependence on sales tax from 38 percent now to 35 percent in 2008, town officials said.Supporters also point to Vail’s capital budget, which is projected to go into the red next year. A shortfall of $25.8 million in the capital budget is projected over the next five years. The tax has the potential to generate more than $4 million in 2008, according to the town. Several other local communities have construction taxes, including Gypsum and Eagle. Aspen is considering putting a tax proposal on the ballot this year.”This is something that’s used in a lot of communities, and it’s not unique to Vail,” Councilman Farrow Hitt said.But Avon’s construction tax was defeated in 2002. So was a proposal in Breckenridge in 1998.It wouldn’t be easy to pass the measure in Vail, either, Gordon said.”It’s very difficult to have a tax increase passed in the town of Vail,” he said.Still, the council voted 4-3 to prepare a resolution that would put the question on November’s ballot. “It’s amazing to me that people get away without paying that 4 percent on two-by-fours and adhesives while I have to pay for it on oatmeal,” said Councilman Greg Moffet.Moffet cited the tens of millions of dollars that Vail would have if it passed the tax a few years ago.The council will have to approve the resolution at its next meeting to get the question on the November ballot.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.