Vail looks to expand use of real estate tax
VAIL – Councilman Mark Gordon said he heard loud and clear from residents at Vail’s long-range community meeting that the town should be an environmental steward.So he was pleased to see Vail expand the uses of its real estate transfer tax to include environmental projects.”I’m so happy to see us making this change,” he said.The Vail Town Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to add environmental uses for the real estate tax. Now, that money can only be used for open space, parks and recreation.With Vail’s billion-dollar renewal well under way, lots of money is pouring into Vail’s real estate transfer tax fund. The town expects to collect $8.2 million in 2007. The real estate tax has grown almost three-fold since 2002, while the town’s sales tax revenue has grown only 12 percent during the same time, according to the town.Up to $250,000 of the real estate fund would be used for environmental programs next year.Gordon said he’d like to use the money for more environmental staff members, recycling programs, and programs to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.Councilman Farrow Hitt said he was worried that parks, open space and recreation might suffer if too much money is used for environmental programs.”We could eat up that fund up in a hurry, but then our parks aren’t protected,” he said.He suggested a baseline amount of money that would be devoted to parks, open space and recreation.”I understand the allure of it because it’s so fat right now,” he said.The idea to expand the real estate tax came up over the summer, partly because Vail is almost done with its open space plan adopted in 1994. There are 42 pieces of open space totaling 566 acres in Vail now.Councilman Greg Moffet said he would like to see the money used to offset the emissions created by the town’s newly installed street snowmelt systems.The 1-percent real estate transfer tax was created in 1980.The council will consider final approval at its Dec. 5 meeting.Green moneyProposed added uses for real estate transfer tax money:• Recycling• Forest and ecosystem health• Water quality• Air quality• Noise• Wildlife protection• Natural resource protection• Alternative energy protectionWhat’s RETT?The real estate transfer tax is a 1 percent tax on real estate that changes hands in Vail. It must be used for open space, recreation or parks. Other communities are now prohibited by state law to create similar taxes.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO
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