Vail Valley Voices: A yes, for Eagle’s future
May 19, 2012
The town of Eagle has significant declining sales tax and property tax revenue, the two primary sources of revenue for Colorado municipalities.
The Terrace subdivision streets last summer were heavily chipped and sealed. Repaving is standard after 20 years of use and routine maintenance. We now have very rough-surfaced streets. We no longer see children learning to ride their bikes, nor the occasional long boarder.
This is the permanent solution to deteriorated residential streets in Eagle? Eagle does not have the money it takes to do any permanent, basic, attractive street overlays every 20 years.
Eagle Ranch residents will see this occur in about 12 years. Its streets, miles and miles of them, will need an overlay. The town, as is, will not do it. The Eagle Ranch Metro District will have to renew and extend a property tax. Perhaps residents of Eagle will have to pass large mill levies in perpetuity to pave our roads and other infrastructure (and operational) needs.
Or, perhaps, we can significantly increase our sales tax base over time.
The business model for Eagle River Station works for Eagle. ERS keeps dollars here and attracts new dollars. Earning a wage or salary and other benefits is better than the alternative. Commerce happens here or it goes to another community and the dollars and jobs with it.
Recommended Stories For You
RED Development stated at one point they intend to own most of the tax free bonds the ERS district issues. This definitely would be another level of financial strength and commitment. If RED Development does not secure long-term tenants, then it really does not matter whether or not we approve ERS. ERS would not go
They should, however, have the opportunity to work on securing their commercial partners. A positive vote would allow for this.
A few observations:
First: Many, maybe most, commercial ventures work in Eagle County because we have large second-home and guest populations added into the mix of our local population. The state demographer does not calculate this population.
Second-home owners, as they retire, are spending more time here but may not declare Eagle County their primary homestead. They also have family and friends who visit, as we all do. People like to come to the mountains. Second-home residents and their friends and families do spend a lot of money in Eagle County. They do buy essential goods, services and much more.
Second: U.S. citizens continue to live longer and better lives. The U.S. is expected to grow by about 40 million people over the next 18 years (U.S. Census). Colorado, western Colorado and Eagle County are very attractive places to live and work and play. We will get our fair share of the new as well as the active aging population.
For example, the recent county-approved Wolcott residential community and its 5,000 projected new residents are only five miles from Eagle and approved with limited commercial.
Third: Eagle residents should not think of ERS as a success or a failure measured in a few years but over many decades. Vail is 50 years old and getting stronger, not weaker. Avon, Gypsum and Glenwood Springs are getting stronger, not weaker. Eagle needs to get stronger, not weaker.
RED Development, like Vail Resorts, does not think in months or quarters. They think and plan for years as an owner-operator.
Fourth: Is it not hypocritical to say we do not want large companies (i.e., a Target and others) in our town when every day large companies provide for nearly all of our basic provisions? Agriculture, energy, automotive, telecommunication and technology are five of the largest business sectors in the world. Try living for a day or a week without any of those.
Kroger (City Market) is one of the largest food retailers in America. Have you been to Costco? Do you not see Comcast and Century link here? Have you fueled up with Shell or Conoco gas recently? Do we not see that companies and the many people who work in or with these companies add to our quality of life?
Fifth: Eagle should not expect its mayor and Town Board members to be the wealth creators for the community and our families. The people who do will be disappointed. We should, however, expect our elected officials to be a strong body and catalyst for policies and votes which allow people’s creative minds and capital to best succeed in their endeavors.
The public sector does not succeed without the private sector succeeding. Both need to succeed. Quality of life is important for all of us, including the persons and the many companies who expend time and resources here.
Eagle, in my opinion, should be thinking it is fortunate to have people with resources who want to invest and succeed in our community and our county.
We should not be fearful. We should not have an aversion toward any well-disposed and well-financed commercial-business activity within our town.
Charlie Wick is an Eagle resident.