Time is short to finish Vail ballot issue | VailDaily.com

Time is short to finish Vail ballot issue

Scott N. Miller

VAIL – How much will a Vail conference center really cost? How much of a tax increase is needed to pay for it? The answers will be hammered out this summer – they have to be to get the hotel-room tax hike meant to help pay for the center on the town’s Nov. 8 ballot.Election deadlines will leave roughly two months for campaigners to campaign and voters to make up their minds whether or not to support roughly doubling the town’s lodging, which was increased once to start raising funds for the center. But is that enough time for a good campaign?”Two weeks ought to be enough time, not two months,” said Rob LeVine, general manager of the Antler’s Lodge and a longtime conference center supporter. “People either think it’s worth it or it isn’t.”Rob Ford, who spearheaded a petition drive to force a vote on the center, says he’s happy the town is holding another election on the matter.”If things are running late, then that’s the way things are,” he said.But the conference center has been in the planning stages for two years. Why the time crunch? There are a couple of things going on.Between now and about Sept. 1, Fentress Bradburn Architects will finish more detailed architectural drawings. Those plans will then be run past the town’s Design Review Board and its Planning and Environmental Commission. Those volunteer town committees are the first steps in the building approval process. Those boards review everything from building additions to town-sponsored construction”We want to run this past them to see if there are any big problems that could affect the cost,” Town Manager Stan Zemler said.Since those boards only meet once a month, there won’t be a lot of time for a lot of in-depth review. But Zemler and other town officials think they can get a good idea of what those groups will want.The other drag on the schedule is deliberately waiting as long as possible to get a “guaranteed maximum price” from M.A. Mortensen, the construction company hired to create the final cost estimate for the center.Because groundbreaking won’t take place until April of next year if the tax increase passes, Zemler said he’s waiting as long as possible for the last estimate, because costs can change dramatically over the course of several months.When the price is set and the town’s advisory boards have had their say, the town will set the exact amount of tax increase.That will probably happen only a few days before the town has to get the final version of the ballot measure to the town clerk’s office.Then the real campaigning will begin.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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