Vail preparing for a big hit to its revenue streams — for now |

Vail preparing for a big hit to its revenue streams — for now

Town is paying employees for 30 days, but has stopped filling vacant positions

The emergency dispatch center in Vail is still operating 24 hours a day, as are the town's police and fire departments.
Dominique Taylor/Special to the Daily |
By the numbers $500,000: Town of Vail emergency relief package (must be approved next week) $4 million: Approximate 2019 revenue collections over budget. 9.4%: Total sales tax rate collected in Vail. 4%: Vail-specific sales tax rate. Source: Town of Vail

Vail officials are preparing for a substantial revenue hit from the COVID-19-related shutdown of the resort.

The town’s police and fire departments are still on duty, although Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said some of that department’s employees are either sick or on “precautionary leave.”

Vail police Chief Dwight Henninger said the town’s dispatch center is operating but is essentially on lockdown in order to keep employees there healthy.

Henninger noted that the police department is essentially using a “cite and release” policy for most offenses.

Novak told council members that the town’s fire inspections continue. The town is also continuing to do building inspections.

The town is paying current seasonal employees for the next 30 days, and people who aren’t healthy are asked not to come to work. Some people are being given alternate work assignments.

While the town wants its seasonal people to return, human resources director Krista Miller said that current job vacancies aren’t being filled until the outbreak passes and people return to work and visit.

Spring festivals off the calendar

The almost-total shutdown of the resort also means a number of spring festivals are either postponed or shut down this spring.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said the big events are “pushing hard” for postponements, but added that it’s going to be “a lot of work” to rearrange schedules to avoid conflicts with other events.

Vail Economic Development director Mia Vlaar told the council that the town and event producers are looking to ways to promote events and activities once the resort is again open for business.

At the moment, people are looking at roughly mid-June to restart the valley’s economic engine, but there are no firm plans.

“Special events will be a critical part of our economic recovery,” Robson said, adding that town officials have been receiving requests for town support for those events and activities.

Vail finance director Kathleen Halloran’s latest revenue projections predict that the town’s revenue streams might start to come back in the summer, and could return to normal by the time the 2020-21 ski season starts.

For now, though, Halloran’s projections show that the town might need to dip into the $4 million collected in 2019 that exceeded the budget for that year.

“There are going to be many challenges, seen and unseen, at this point,” Mayor Dave Chapin said. But, he added, the town and its staff are “committed to getting out of this. Hang in there: We’re going to get through it.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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