Vail cannot escape that word ‘blight’ |

Vail cannot escape that word ‘blight’

Don Rogers

TIF, for tax increment financing, is a way to capture tax revenue for a specific project without raising the tax rate. Dollars collected over a set amount, usually the revenue just before a government sets the plan in place, go to the project instead of to the usual places.

To do this in Colorado, though, requires the use of the that word.

Vail’s leadership is a little sensitive because during the last go-round a couple of years ago, the national and even international news media ran stories about tony Vail declaring part of town a blighted area.

But it seems that in addition to dictionary understandings of the word, and the obvious connotation to inner cities, Colorado has a bureaucratic set of guidelines tied to the word “blight.”

As Vail heads into using TIF to finance public improvements at Lionshead, officials now hope that they can get this more clinical definition of “blight” across.

But, like that big mole you can’t help but look at, there it is. Blight.

Consider, though, that High Country cousins Crested Butte and Estes Park have used this tool to fix up parts of their communities. The tactic is not entirely unprecedented. And if you can wade through details somewhat more complex than whether Ryan’s right for Trista, well, it seems to be a decent model for fixing up Lionshead without burdening the taxpayers or hurting local governments.

Rather artfully, too, the architects of the district that would be affected by a TIF cut the most troubled set of condo owners out of the boundaries and have promised to not use any powers of condemnation of private property. Those two steps may well still the speed dials to favorite reporters in the valley and on out to The New York Times. Last go-around, even the BBC called to ask about this business about blight in Vail.

Gift of powder

Best present for Valentine’s? Not poetry, jewelry or even chocolates, though the love of your life no doubt will make do with any or all of those.

But the best would be snow and lots of it. Ease the drought, and attract those skiers and vacationers over Presidents Day weekend.

Can’t scare ’em

Gas prices soaring, stock markets sinking, the idea of war in Iraq spooking even some conservatives, and the rising level of terrorism alert so far doesn’t seem to be keeping people from coming to Vail and Beaver Creek to ski. Just seemed worth noting.


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