Vail Daily’s View: Yes to Eagle and Avon taxes
Vail, CO, Colorado
The two town proposals to increase taxes nominally aim to improve business quickly, and both have the eager support of their business communities.
The town of Eagle asks voters to approve a $2-per-night lodging tax to raise an estimated $110,000 to market the community.
The Eagle Chamber of Commerce and lodge owners and managers are strong advocates. Lodge operators say patrons will have little to no objection and that marketing the town will have a directly positive effect on their businesses.
An effort funded by visitors to make the town more attractive to more visitors makes sense. We recommend voters approve this one.
Up in Avon, the town proposes a tiny sales tax increase – 35 cents per $100 – to provide better free bus service.
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Business leaders see value in running longer hours, having a shuttle between Beaver Creek and Avon and providing bus service to the Buffalo Ridge apartment complex, although officials are only promising expanded service, not necessarily restoring service to the isolated apartment complex.
But officials don’t have a clear idea of what to expect in ridership, just that bus service would become more regular and far-reaching if the tax passes.
Avon already has among the higher sales taxes of towns in Colorado, which has among the higher sales taxes in the country when local taxes are tabulated. While visitors pay two-thirds of the sales tax collected, residents also contribute, of course.
The cost is very low, but if extended free bus service is so crucial, why hasn’t Avon incorporated it into the services it provides on the taxes it already collects? And is this the most important need for the dedicated sales tax? If so, why don’t leaders have a better idea of the return on the investment? We know how many hours of service the additional money can provide, but no one is sure what the return on that investment might be.
Would a business raise its prices even negligibly for an added service it knew so little about? Does it really make sense to add a tax because it feels right?
Then again, we are talking 35 cents for every $100 in spending, a significant sum while shopping. Obviously, we’re conflicted about the true value of this one, but the cost per sales receipt is minimal.
It would be better if this tax increase came with a promise to the residents of Buffalo Ridge, and not just guests who want more convenient access to and from Beaver Creek. Count this as a not entirely convinced recommendation for passage.