Those dang ‘budget’ folks |

Those dang ‘budget’ folks

Don Rogers

Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association, explains Vail’s economic trends as well as anyone.

In his annual report to the membership of the leading property owners’ group, he says that Vail’s historical “affluent” guest market has declined as the town and some businesses reach out for the “budget” market.

Vail’s trend this year might contradict Lamont’s assessment, and the world outside town might have a little something to do with the “destination” vs. “day skier” numbers.

A national economy that picks up, and a stock market on the rise, along with more confidence about flying, will tend to boost those numbers of “affluent” visitors to Vail.

But degrading lodges and infrastructure in the shopping villages contribute to the slippage, and Lamont points out that the “renaissance” – about a billion dollars’ worth of renovation and new construction – is a good five years from fruition.

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Pair that with a big and again growing community west of the Dowd Junction, along with 4 million or so Front Rangers – some of whom might like to ski – and yeah, the “budget” market is one Vail might want to appeal more to. Perhaps the bigger loss for Vail has been those “budget” folks who moved 10-35 miles west.

Lamont, in his message for the true “affluents” in America, decries affordable housing initiatives in town as “redundant” and “non-essential” recreational facilities apparently as threats to the second-home crowd. These moves are designed to “counterbalance the influence of second-home ownership and to insure that working residents remain living in the community.” That’s a bad thing?

Other apparent junk initiatives to boost the “budget” market involve “promotional marketing, special events and the development of a proposed convention center.”

Lamont labels spending in support of these things as “unchecked” and “unwise” and warns his audience to watch out for the town with the lowest property tax rate this side of the Mississippi for tax questions on the ballot in the next 18 months.

But then, in the same report, he extols spending millions and millions on pipes keeping Vail Village streets warm and snow-free as a fine example of wise spending.

Looks like there still might be a bit of a gap between those working “budget” folk, some of whom still live in town, and the preferred “affluents,” ideally free of special events causing a racket, wage workers living in town, and convention people.

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