Vail taxpayers won’t get rebates
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail devoted about a half-million dollars of unexpected tax money to “capital” projects such as road, bridge and building projects.
“This was truly a windfall we received as a result of the increases in assessments,” said Councilman Andy Daly. “What has been communicated to the voters is the biggest need we have going forward is in the arena of capital improvements.”
The extra property-tax money comes from a 28 percent increase in assessed values of homes, which happened last year. The town will end up with $450,000 to $600,000 more than it expected.
The Town Council decided against giving the money back to taxpayers with a rebate, even though one taxpayer said that’s what she wanted.
“In these time of soaring prices on everyday necessities, citizens living on fixed incomes such as myself can hardly afford property tax increases well in excess of 40 percent,” said Kathryn Benysh, a Vail taxpayer.
The owners of a $1 million home could have gotten a rebate from $25 to $50, town officials said. But a rebate might be challenged in court, difficult to administer or costly, the town said.
The town also considered reducing the tax rate, but officials were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to raise it again without voters’ approval.
“We did seriously investigate rebates, and I’ve been very supportive of that,” said Mayor Dick Cleveland. “Unfortunately because of legal advice we got, I’m not willing to risk the town’s future by reducing the mil levy and not being able to weather a downturn in the economy.”
Former Councilman Tom Steinberg said the money should be used for the West Vail fire station, saying that building is “25 years overdue.”
The town has said it faces a $25.8 million shortfall in its capital-projects budget.
Capital projects that are planned over the next five years include rebuilding bridges, rebuilding roads, improvements to Town Hall and the parking structures, replacing buses and reducing interstate noise.
Voters passed a tax on construction materials to raise money for capital projects, but collections have been low so far this year. The town projected revenue of up to $4 million per year from the tax but has only collected $56,000 so far this year.
The Town Council also considered using the money for housing, which it has identified as a priority in the town.
The town will have to choose a specific project to spend the unexpected tax money on.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.
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