Vail election gantlet grows
I guess it’s about time to start talking about the election. And believe me, now that the mayor has decided to stay, that’s about all we’ll be dealing with for the next five months.
Here’s the schedule in view of his recent decision:
n Petitions for potential candidates in the November election can be picked up Sept. 15.
n Petitions must be returned to the town clerk by Oct. 3.
n Certi-fication is required by Oct. 8.
n Early voting starts Oct.21.
n The election is Nov. 4.
n Swearing in will take place Nov.18.
n Petitions for potential candidates in the special election can be picked up Dec. 8.
n Petitions must be returned to the town clerk by Dec. 26.
n Certification is required by Dec. 31.
n Early voting starts Jan. 13.
n The special election is Jan. 27.
n Swearing in will take place Feb. 3.
There’s only a three-week break between all of the posturing. Sounds more like the national elections than those of a small town.
But the decision has been made and four seats must be filled. From what’s been put out there so far, it seems as though there are two prevalent themes that will rule the discussions leading up to the vote.
The first camp believes that if we build enough community facilities and amenities, the downvalley locals will move back to Vail. In doing so, they will support local businesses and sales tax will therefore grow and all will be well in la la land. Sort of the “Field of Dreams”concept.
Only problem is, they haven’t explained how they plan to do that with no money. Because, you see, the town of Vail doesn’t have the funds available to do much since revenues have been declining for a number of years. They also haven’t filled us in as to how real estate prices fit in to this scenario.
Camp 2 believes that you must do all you can to fuel the economic engine of the town, otherwise known as the business community. If you do this, sales tax will grow and then we will have the funds to provide the above mentioned amenities.
And what is meant by fueling the economic engine? It means providing whatever is necessary to create a community where old businesses want to remain and new businesses want to open and they can all thrive. Where guests want to visit and spend money. Where the climate is healthy and lively and attractive and functioning. Where there is an excitement in the air that is contagious to one and all.
It means cleaning up the streets, painting the buildings, filling the empty stores and generally making it easy to do so.
It means cooperation and deregulation and implementation.
It means putting aside individual differences and pulling together. It means knowing we disagree but agreeing to move forward in spite of that.
But first and foremost, it means electing those individuals who have the vision and the plan to get us there.
I think one thing all of us will agree on is that there is no perfect answer. Most of the ideas out there are good ones. It’s just a matter of priorities In the case of the town of Vail. The message from the residents on those priorities is actually very clear.
The town survey, which was conducted in the spring, makes the decision easy. The overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they want sales tax to continue to be the primary funding source for the TOV. And that was further verified in the last election when the voters said no to a property tax increase. So that leaves sales tax.
When I started in business here, over 60 percent of the town budget came from sales tax. Today it’s below 50 percent. That difference of 10-plus percent is what’s causing the squeeze on town services and projects and that 10-plus percent is what must be restored.
Once that is done, things will be easier and there will be room to breathe. There will also be revenues that can be used for the extra amenities which most everyone agrees are necessary for a balanced community. But we have to be careful not to put the cart before the horse as we seemed to have done in the past few years.
Alan Kosloff’s letter to the editor on Saturday outlined where most of the town funds have been spent in recent memory. They’ve been spent on parks and roads and other miscellaneous improvements in the neighborhoods. It is now time to focus on revitalizing the core business areas so that sales tax revenues can grow. Only in this way can we make sure that Vail has the ability in the future to compete as the number one ski resort in the world and provide its citizens with the best community experience as well.
But it all starts with choosing the right people. Don’t support the candidates who tell you what you’d prefer to hear. Listen closely and choose the ones who have the answers that will lead us into the future in an economically responsible way. It may require putting the wish list on temporary hold, but it will assure that we ultimately get those wishes. And it will serve us well in the long run.
Here’s another version floating about as to why his honor is staying on the job to the bitter end. Rumor has it that Councilman Dick Cleveland played a role in that decision. Mr. Cleveland has made no bones about the fact that he wants to be mayor. It seems that with Ludy around, Dick gets another vote. Two years ago, Diana Donovan didn’t want to be mayor. If she still doesn’t want the job, at least there’ll be three votes for Dick.
UPDATE: Contrary to a recent article in this newspaper, The VCBA is NOT merging with the VVCTB. They will continue to work jointly on projects when it is appropriate, for example, Turn It Up!
They will also subcontract for other services when it is economically advantageous; for example, the Vail Guide. Apparently there is a reporter who doesn’t understand no when he asks this question.
Kaye Ferry, a longtime observer of Vail government, writes a weekly column for the Daily.