Vail to poll voters about conference funds
May 3, 2011
VAIL, Colorado – The town of Vail is now leaning in the direction of conducting a poll of Vail voters before deciding how to word a ballot question about how to spend the $9.4 million in conference center funds for the November election.
David Cunningham, a consultant with Summit Information Services, met with the Vail Town Council Tuesday to talk about the conference center funds election. While the town has not hired Cunningham, he was consulted for the 2002 election, which passed the sales and lodging taxes that raised the $9.4 million in conference center funds.
Cunningham told the council that it won’t get 100 percent consensus, but if the town can back up the ballot question with data, it should be able to win the election.
“I would advocate for you that you engage a polling company,” Cunningham said. “It’s hard to get a great sample, but it would get more than would ever show up at a council meeting.”
Of the town’s 768 active voters, Cunningham said polling even a couple hundred people would give the town a nice baseline.
“This isn’t a super hard election if you can feel good about what you put on the ballot,” Cunningham said.
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He said if the town could get with other boards that have constituents, such as the Vail Recreation District, and get behind specific projects together, there would be a good chance that voters would agree.
Councilwoman Margaret Rogers asked about some of the ballot question scenarios. She told Cunningham that community feedback so far has raised doubts about how to word the question.
Vail resident Kaye Ferry said she would vote no if she didn’t like one project out of three being proposed, for example. Not liking one project would be enough, Ferry said, to vote everything down.
Cunningham said that voters aren’t likely to overwhelmingly vote like that, though. In cases where the money could be lost forever if a vote loses, people must really dislike a project in order to sacrifice the money all together, he said.
Cunningham said that a ballot question that asks voters to choose the project they want would be extremely divisive for the community. Each group trying to get their project passed would have to run their own campaigns, which would be tough, he said.
“I wouldn’t recommend going down that path,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said the town needs to be able to explain to people why the town has gotten to this point.
“Why is the vote this year and not next year? You need to be able to explain that to people,” he said.
Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler said he would get back to the council with information on a potential timeline for the poll and how much it would cost. The council wants to get the poll under way in late May and early June in order to have time to go over the results before the August deadline for drafting a ballot question.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.