Vail struggles with 2012 budget |

Vail struggles with 2012 budget

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Special events took center stage Tuesday night, as the Vail Town Council chipped away at its $53.2 million proposed budget for 2012.

The council struggled with 2012 special-events contributions, as many representatives from the various organizations who run the events spoke out – everyone thinks their event is too important to be cut, and some organizations have even asked for more money in 2012 than they received in 2011.

The council indicated Tuesday that it would support staff recommendations for special-events funding, effectively denying funding increases for organizations such as the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

“I’d love to give more, but we can’t continue to do this,” Mayor Dick Cleveland said.

The Town Council ultimately tabled the first reading of the budget until its next meeting, pushing back any final decisions on the 2012 budget. A second reading will then be scheduled for the first meeting in November.

Cleveland said the reason the town’s contributions to special events, mainly through the funding of the town’s Commission on Special Events, have gone up in recent years is because of the recession.

The “big moves” made in events funding were directly related to combating the economic downturn, Cleveland said.

And those moves appear to have worked, Councilwoman Susie Tjossem said, especially during summer months – July and August sales tax revenues this year were some of the highest in town history, which Tjossem attributes to special events.

But with continuing economic uncertainty, Councilwoman Kim Newbury agreed with Cleveland and said this is no time to increase funding.

“We’re cutting, yet we’re expected to keep giving more and more and more to everyone else,” Newbury said.

Funding for iconic and special events has increased 75 percent, or $673,600, since 2005, not including the $293,280 in annual in-kind services provided for events and nonprofits, according to the town’s finance department.

“The in-kind services and general support to special events in 2011 has stretched town staff to the limit, and while the attached proposal includes similar levels of support in 2012, any additional events generate additional need for personnel, volunteer hosts, publicity and other costs,” the finance department said in the 2012 proposed budget. “Also, upcoming commitments to large events cannot be absorbed within the town’s annual operations. Specifically, the town’s support for the World Alpine Ski Championships, the Nation’s event at Golden Peak, the Pro Cycling Challenge and Vail’s 50th Anniversary celebration are proposed for funding from General Fund reserves.”

The town received more than $3.3 million in requested council contributions for 2012, but the council plans to approve $1.26 million for 2012, a slight decrease from 2011.

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