Vail may cut another million | VailDaily.com

Vail may cut another million

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Another $1.2 million may be cut from Vail’s budget Tuesday as the town discusses its financial outlook for the rest of the year and the coming summer and ski seasons.

Based on falling sales tax revenues, which the town estimates will be down 20 percent from last year for the summer months, the town may cut more of its already slimmed-down operational budget.

The town council will discuss the proposed cut at its meeting Tuesday night. If the council approves the cuts, that will bring the town’s total budget cuts for the year to $2.1 million. The town cut just under $1 million from the 2009 budget back in February.

The operational cuts will come from individual departments, savings in fuel, training and travel expenses, and outsourcing building inspections, said Town Manager Stan Zemler.

However, as of now, no jobs will be cut and the level of town services will remain the same, he said.

“We’re trying not to change how the town of Vail approaches its services,” he said. “We want to stay in the mode of being a top service provider.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the town will also take a look at what can be expected for the next couple years.

Sales tax revenues are expected to be about the same next year and increase slightly for 2011. Other revenue sources, such as from the real estate transfer tax, construction permit fees and ski lift tax, are expected to continue sliding as well.

To deal with the shortfall, the town may use $3.2 million in budget surplus from 2008 to cover the gaps for the next few years. However, even with the surplus money, some tough cuts will be expected as the town adjusts to its lower income, said Zemler.

“We’re not reducing bus service or the number of flowers we plant, but we’re right at the edge now,” he said.

Zemler said he will be working with the town’s individual departments to see how they will deal with smaller budgets in the coming years.

“There will have to be some degree of change eventually, and there will be plenty of challenges,” he said.

The council will also discuss new events at Mountain Plaza that could bring more visitors through the Village.

A rock climbing wall, bungee jumping/trampoline and street entertainers are some of the attractions being considered for the area at the base of the Vista Bahn. The town’s commission on special events, Vail Resorts and the business chamber have been working together to bring some life to the village after the announcement that the Vista Bahn would not be running this summer.

The lift, which usually took mountain bikers and hikers up the mountain, did not get enough use to justify the cost of running it, Vail Resorts said.

“At first we wanted to get the ski company to (run) it, but it didn’t make economic sense,” said Sybill Navas, the town’s events coordinator. Vail Resorts may pitch in to get the family friendly activities going at the base of the lift, and the town plans to spend some funds to bring in street acts and performers two nights a week through the summer, Navas said.

“Sometimes there are street entertainers, doing juggling or some sort of circus act,” she said. “It’s to kind of draw people through the village and have people stay a little longer.”

The town has been in “predevelopment” talks with a company interested in rebuilding Timber Ridge, the town’s employee housing complex.

Town staff is now asking for more time to work with the Texas-based Timber Ridge, LLC before a decision is made on whether the town will hire the company to do the job.

Zemler said the town and developers are still working through technical issues of the project, including bond financing and land challenges to building on the site.

“Talks have been productive, but it’s a complicated project,” he said.

If the talks are extended, the town will be expected to make a decision on whether or not to sign a contract with the company by July 7.

The Vail Town Council meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Vail Municipal building. For the full agenda, click on agendas at http://www.vailgov.com

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.