Vail Daily editorial: Edwards’ efforts worthwhile
Longtime residents who remember Edwards as it was 25 years ago or more will recall the days when that part of the valley was “downvalley.” From the 1990s on, though, Edwards has grown into a full-blown community.
But Edwards isn’t a town. It’s part of Eagle County. The area relies on the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement, and the area’s sales and property taxes go into county coffers, where those funds are shared across the area. A hodgepodge of metropolitan districts provide some local representation, but those districts are quite limited in what they can and can’t do. That leaves the county as the primary municipal agency.
Over the years, Edwards residents have asked the county government for services including recreation, open space, road improvements and more. And over the years, the answers have usually boiled down to money.
Some county commissioners have encouraged Edwards to just go ahead and become a town, so residents would have a more direct say in how the area is managed. Residents mostly have responded that they’d rather not take on the added bureaucracy and expense that a town government requires.
Still, money is needed for road improvements — particularly at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Spur Road between the state highway and Interstate 70. The Colorado Department of Transportation can’t fund the entire project, nor can Eagle County. That means some form of local match is needed.
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That’s why we like the idea — still in its embryonic form — to ask Edwards voters for an area-specific sales tax.
According to Ken Marchetti, whose firm handles the administration work for many of the valley’s special districts, a 0.5 percent sales tax would raise about $500,000 per year. That isn’t a lot of money, but is enough to cover a modest bond issue for improvements and contribute to the cost of “circulator” bus service in the area. It’s also a far smaller bite than the 3 percent to 4 percent sales taxes levied by towns in the valley.
Edwards isn’t alone in occupying the sometimes-awkward space of being not quite a town. Evergreen manages, as does El Jebel. What it takes is a willingness to work with people who are responsible for a host of other people and projects, and a willingness to accept the limitations that come with less-direct representation. In return, residents bear a lighter burden from the tax collector.
If people are willing to make that trade, then go right ahead.