Vail Daily column: Should property owners help fund flight subsidies?
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt 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.vail homeowners.com.
It seems likely that tax initiatives will be on the ballot in 2016. Eagle County is already looking at tax increases to fund schools and air passenger service into the Eagle County Regional Airport. And talk is starting about the likelihood of a need for tax funding for a civic and cultural center in Vail. This will undoubtedly spur vigorous debate about the role of government in funding such proposals. Flight subsidies, where the local destination pays the airline to provide service, are a good example. Currently, the subsidies are funded by a loose confederation of some Eagle County business interests. Most resort-related local businesses do not contribute to fund flights from new destinations, leaving their funding responsibilities to their local governments to make up the difference from tourism sales tax revenues. This has not yielded enough funding to more aggressively promote new flights and increase growth in the numbers of passengers. The question will become whether Eagle County property owners should foot the bill for an amenity that mainly supports the business community.
The challenge of keeping the community vibrant and intact by ensuring greater transparency in government, a balanced approach to community issues, solving Vail’s infrastructure needs and shifting from “mass marketing” back to “sustainable” tourism, is in the hands of the voters and those who are politically engineering the coming transition in leadership. If there is to be a change in the trajectory of town of Vail governance, then it will likely come from the residents, who may well recognize a need for change before their public officials. Officials all too often consult their own surveys to conclude there is no need to alter course, but surveys can be worded to manipulate the desired outcome, particularly those conducted by partisan consultants.
If you share any of these concerns, then get involved! Let your voice be heard. Help make Vail an inclusive community that brings out the best in all of us. Becoming a member of the Vail Homeowners Association is a way to do that.