Vail Daily column: How to fund new parking?
The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. 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.
Parking issues. With apparent consensus that Vail needs additional structured parking capability, the second most pressing issue in the recent town survey, the focus has now moved on to how to finance additional parking. The Town Council is currently considering doubling the town’s lift ticket tax. The current tax generates approximately $4.7 million. Doubling that revenue could raise $50 million during the next 10 years which would enable major parking improvements. For example, adding a fifth deck to the Lionshead Parking Structure, one of several projects under consideration, would provide 400 additional parking spaces. The nearly 40-year-old building is in need of structural strengthening which was the advice from the Vail Public Works Department in an evaluation of the potential expansion of the Lionshead parking structure given to the former Town Council. At that time, nearly two years ago, the project was estimated to cost $35 million.
There has not yet, however, been any public hearing on this tax proposal, and Vail Resorts has yet to be heard, although, given its response to Breckenridge’s proposal to do the same thing, a negative response would not be surprising.
This proposal has a built-in urgency. To get on the November ballot, a decision needs to be made in the next few weeks. While the Vail Homeowners Association fully supports solving the parking crisis, there is concern that placing a tax increase on the November ballot without a well thought out and publicly vetted plan could lead to defeat. Currently, there are several possible sites but no shovel ready plans or cost projections. Nor is there a campaign apparatus ready to educate voters. “Trust us to spend your money wisely” proposals usually have DOA all over them as soon as they are proposed.
This year, it appears that there will be a number of proposed tax increases on the ballot, maybe as many as five. Putting the cart before the horse with a premature tax increase but no concrete plans could result in a setback that will delay any eventual solution for a number of years. The Vail Homeowners Association counsels caution and urges that only a well prepared proposal be placed on the ballot, even if that means a delay in the process. That time could be effectively utilized to select a location, develop plans and cost estimates and prepare a voter education plan.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.