Vail candidates offer up spending ideas
VAIL ” They want affordable housing.
Most of them are open to widening the uses of Vail’s real-estate tax.
Almost all of them think the Lionshead parking structure redevelopment would be a good thing.
The 10 Vail Town Council candidates discussed the town’s issues at a debate sponsored by the Vail Chamber and Business Association on Thursday at Donovan Pavilion.
A couple of candidates said Vail hasn’t gotten everything it could have out of its recent construction spurt.
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“Were we overmatched in some of our negotiations with developers? Yes,” said Dick Cleveland.
“In some cases the developers have outnegotiated us,” said Susie Tjossem.
Candidates were being asked about how the town developed a $25.8 budget shortfall in the midst of massive redevelopment that was supposed to benefit the town. Had Vail approved too many condos that stay empty and don’t generate sales tax?
Margaret Rogers said the town needs to use “special development districts” to get more benefits from developments.
“That would include ‘hot beds’, it would include recreational facilities, or other things that people can use ” other than the people who are going to be here two weeks a year,” she said.
The 10 residents are running for five open seats on the Vail Town Council. Mayor Rod Slifer and Councilman Greg Moffet are term-limited and will not run again. Councilman Kent Logan is not seeking re-election.
Their answers varied when they were asked how the town should use its $10 million conference center fund, which the town collected for a conference center that was later rejected by voters. The new use would have to ultimately be approved by voters.
Kevin Foley said the town should use it for events that will get people to Vail ” maybe golf or disc golf.
Tjossem said it should be used for nonprofits, such as the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.
Scott Proper said it should be used for capital projects, such as paving streets.
Bob McKown said Vail should consider using it for a rec center or an aquatic center.
Kim Newbury said it should be used for the conference center that’s planned for the Lionshead parking structure.
Most candidates said they’d be open to expanding the uses of the town’s real-estate tax. It can now be used for open space, recreation, parks and environmental stewardship.
“I’m certainly open to expanding the use, possibly for the acquisition of land for housing,” Cleveland said.
“We need to put this money toward maybe improving parking,” Dave Irwin said. “Make it viable for people who come back to town so it doesn’t turn into kind of a ghost town.”
“I’m not a big fan of actually expanding its use for things like housing and roads,” Kim Newbury said.
Andy Daly, a former president of Vail Resorts, was asked whether he’ll be able to fairly weigh in on issues that involve his former employer. That will not be a problem, he said.
“I see no need to recuse myself,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.