Vail officials say the town and resort are doing great |

Vail officials say the town and resort are doing great

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

Town of Vail officials reported that all is well in the town of Vail at Tuesday night’s annual town meeting, and judging by the reaction from the crowd, Vail residents generally agree.

Revenues are up, including record-breaking sales tax collections in December, and previous problems such as parking and below-average snowfall appear to be things of the past in 2011.

After Mayor Dick Cleveland and Vail Resorts Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot talked for about 45 minutes about the state of both the town and the ski resort – they say everything is as great as can be right now – they opened up to questions from the 60 or so people in attendance.

In years past, this would be the time for residents to ask some hard questions about the town and its operations. Why are you spending money on this or that, or why haven’t you solved this problem or that problem?

Residents have praised and criticized town officials in previous meetings or taken the question-and-answer time to offer suggestions to officials on how to do things better or differently.

But this year, the question-and-answer session was practically silent. Just two people asked questions, and not one question related to the town’s economy or the resort’s finances, which were the top concerns at the annual meeting in 2010.

One question was directed at Jarnot and concerned mountain safety, while another came from a woman concerned about Interstate 70 traffic.

Cleveland boasted generally good news Tuesday night and gave off a much more confident and worry-free presentation than he did last year.

Cleveland told the crowd it’s time to pat themselves on the backs because even throughout the “economic upheaval,” the community never lost sight of its goal to to be the premier mountain-resort community in the country, if not the world, he said.

And with lift tax revenues up 15 percent this past January alone, Cleveland said, “We must be doing something right.”

Jarnot couldn’t discuss Vail Resorts’ finances – Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz will do that Thursday during the company’s fiscal 2011 second-quarter earnings report – but said Mother Nature has been especially kind to Vail Mountain this year and pointed to the lift tax increase as good evidence of how things are going.

He said the snowfall this season, combined with a visit from first lady Michelle Obama and the completion of Vail’s major redevelopment projects, is turning the season into one of his most memorable.

“This is the season the wind shifted and is now at our backs here in Vail,” Jarnot said. “It’s not the case everywhere; it’s not the case at all resorts.”

The shifting winds were no accident, either, Cleveland said.

“We’ve seen lean years and we’ve seen good years and have made the changes necessary to adapt to those times,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland attributes the town’s financial health to the 20 major redevelopment projects since 2005, as well as conservative budgeting and budget cuts.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at

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