Voters asked to raise Beaver Creek taxes
Beaver Creek is a pretty posh place. But poshness can fade if you don1t spend a few million bucks to build a gondola or refurbish your glitzy performing art center.That1s why Beaver Creek homeowners, merchants and developers will be asked in an election next week to approve an ambitious and long-range financial proposal that amounts to a trio of tax hikes.3Beaver Creek1s on a roll right now. It1s 20 years old and it1s had an extraordinarily successful run, said Harry Frampton, chairman of East-West Partners and chairman of the Vilar Center Board. 3But Beaver Creek is at the point where it needs to take steps to ensure its prosperity 10 to 15 years from now.Officials are proposing an increase in Beaver Creek1s real estate transfer assessment, civic assessment, and lodging civic assessment. If approved by the voters April 5, the hikes will raise an additional $1.85 million each year.Last year the voters OK1d an increase in the civic assessment, which is similar to a sales tax. If the other two increases are passed next week, they will raise the civic assessment, setting Beaver Creek1s total sales tax at 9.99 percent, which would be higher than rates in Vail and Aspen.The extra cash, combined with Beaver Creek1s reserves, would be spent on keeping the stage at the Vilar Center full of international stars and boosting the theater1s reputation as the valley1s performing arts mecca, Frampton said.But the most ambitious part of the proposal is the gondola Vail Resorts wants to build to carry skiers from Avon to Bachelor Gulch to the top of the slopes at Strawberry Park.Some of the revenue generated from the increased assessments would be used to pay for Beaver Creek1s share of the approximately $30 million gondola.Vail Resorts, the Beaver Creek Resort Company, the Beaver Creek Metropolitan District and Bachelor Gulch appear ready to build the gondola. The only remaining holdout is the town of Avon, which has been asked to pitch in a few million dollars. The Avon Town Council has not yet approved sharing the cost.The town is waiting for Vail Resorts to finalize its plans to build a new ski village on the empty 19-acre riverside lot known as the 3confluence site across from the Seasons Building in Avon. The gondola would begin at the new village, which is being called 3Beaver Creek Landing.3We want to significantly improve access to the mountain and that means the gondola, Frampton said. 3It1s a big deal.Also part of the tax hike proposal is a boost in summer marketing and brand new maintenance facilities for Beaver Creek. Officials want to replace the series of barns alongside the Dally catwalk that now house the resort1s groomers, snowplows and other maintenance equipment.3It1s not very glamorous, but you1ve got to have it, Frampton said.Beaver Creek voters will be asked to approve a 0.5 percent increase in Beaver Creek1s 2 percent real estate transfer tax. That could raise $891,000.Voters will also be asked to introduce a .96 percent lodging civic assessment, which could raise $556,000.3I think it1s important the vote goes through, said Robert Dallain, general manager of the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. 3We1re competing with other resorts, Whistler and Park City, and if we sit on our behinds we1re going to be struggling.The vote, however, is not your average election. Votes will be counted in six classes<homeowners, merchants, hoteliers, owners of undeveloped land, Vail Resorts and the principal developer, which is also Vail Resorts.To pass, the increases need 3yes votes from both of Vail Resorts1 classes and two others.Many property homeowners have already voted. The results should be announced at a meeting at the Beaver Creek Lodge the morning of April 5.Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.