Vail Daily column: Worlds’ lasting effect
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from the Vail Homeowners Association Newsletter. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
Alpine World Ski Championships: According to a preliminary report, the effect of the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships on the town of Vail sales tax collections for February will likely be down 0.9 percent from its budget projections, even though February sales tax collections increased 1.6 percent over the previous year. The championships’ primary sponsor, the Vail Valley Foundation, reports that according to their calculations visitor attendance far exceeded projections. Expectations are for Vail to receive a bump in visitors and real estate sales over subsequent years resulting from the championships’ television and social media coverage.
Special event funding: The funding of athletic, entertainment and cultural programs is an area of increasing concern. This may find its way into the upcoming council election as questions continue to circulate concerning the qualitative impact of an ever-increasing number of special events, their funding by the town and whether they materially improve the town’s finances and image. There is also concern that the cost of these events may increasingly fall upon taxpayers as sources of philanthropic gifting and corporate sponsorship become less dependable. The staging of certain types of high level sporting extravaganzas, like the Winter Olympics, are coming under increased scrutiny for untoward business practices which fail to deliver on promised longer-termed economic benefits. In Vail, as the percentage of international property owners steadily increases, their participation in philanthropic gifting for cultural events is not on par with American owners. The underlying reason is that for many international owners the government in their home country funds these types of activities. If the declining funding trend comes about, then the competition for public funding will bring the qualitative versus quantitative debate to the forefront of the town’s political discussion about its tourism economic development.
Summer public parking: The allocation of public parking spaces is becoming increasingly complicated as the multiplicity of venues in Ford Park seek to either accommodate or build up their patrons and participants attendance. Paid and pre-allocated patron parking during spectator events causes conflicts with daily park use. Expanding the town’s scheduled shuttle bus service to the park appears to be one option that could offer some relief.
Broadly viewed, continuing Vail’s free summer parking will become an even more complex management challenge when tourism increases as new on-mountain tourist attractions begin operation. Parking will likely be further compounded from the intensifying emphasis placed upon large crowd events held at open air venues and on streets throughout Vail’s town center. Because there are no parking requirements for street and open air events, they have exacerbated Vail’s parking problems, leading to the question of whether paid public parking will become inevitable during the summer event season.
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Vail real estate sales: While the Eagle County market continued to gain strength, the town’s Real Estate Transfer Tax took a 37.1 percent dip between the first of the year and April 28 as compared to the same period in 2014. Local analysts, thus far, are at a loss to account for the anomaly. A possible explanation is that certain segments of Vail’s international real estate market, which anecdotally have been vigorous over the past year, may be undergoing a higher level of scrutiny. Some foreign investors may well be choosing to make less eye-catching investments. What has changed in recent times is the implementation of treaty agreements among some national governments that allow for more intensive oversight of international financial transactions.