Vail tries to answer $9.3 million question
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – The town of Vail is getting serious about what to do with its $9.3 million conference center fund – a discussion that hasn’t gotten very far since the town raised the money through a special lodging tax several years ago.
With recent proposals suggesting the town use the money to build and upgrade local facilities to increase hotel occupancies throughout the year – one of the main purposes set forth when the conference center funds were raised – council members now want to put together a group of locals who can help make a lot of discussions turn into reality.
Town Manager Stan Zemler told council members Tuesday that while the town would have to go to the voters to get approval for use of the funds, the town didn’t have to shoot for the November election because the ballot question is not a Taxpayer Bill of Rights issue. The town could hold a special election later if the appointed group doesn’t narrow down a ballot question in time.
He told members the town’s goal should be to put a group together that could help decide which options for the money would help the town reach its goals of putting more heads in beds and raising more sales tax revenue.
Two proposals that have surfaced in recent months include adding a second story to Dobson Arena for health, wellness, educational, cultural and other events, and purchasing the old Colorado Mountain College building at the Vail Cascade Resort to use for similar events.
The nine-member group would include two Vail Town Council members, two Vail Economic Advisory Council members and five at-large members. Council members Kerry Donovan and Susie Tjossem volunteered for the two council positions Tuesday.
The first step would be to have James Chung, the consultant hired by the town’s Local Marketing District, present his studies that show Vail’s potential to become a destination spot for health, wellness and recreational activities outside of winter sports . Chung has said Vail needs to act fast to capture a market of visitors that could bring the town a lot of revenue in the next decade.
The town would use Chung’s research as the criteria that the appointed group would have to meet when deciding what to ask voters to do with the $9.3 million.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.