Vail Daily letter: An important tool
Dear Gov. Hickenlooper,
Please veto HB 1375. For resort towns such as Vail, the only tool we have to support efforts to rejuvenated deteriorating areas is the Urban Renewal Authority using Tax Increment Financing. While our permanent population is about 5,500, during peak months, winter and summer, we must be able to provide infrastructure that supports 25,000-plus visitors and residents so as we studied the redevelopment of our Lionshead area, it was more than apparent that the town could not support, within an eight- to 10-year time frame, the urban renewal infrastructure requirements for the Lionshead area without a supplemental revenue source, i.e. a TIF district.
The Lionshead renewal achieved through our URA, the Vail Reinvestment Authority, and private sector investment including Vail Resorts, would be an ideal case study to review the benefits and potential detriments for all the related taxing entities as the numbers will attest to the tremendous increase in vitality, measured by increases in sales and property taxes, as a result of the redevelopment. In the case of Lionshead, the town of Vail used only incremental property taxes which the town retained to pay for the costs of new supporting infrastructure within the istrict. This redevelopment, since 2007 when the project was initiated, has attracted many new guests including Colorado day and overnight although the majority has been destination out of state and international guests which has resulted in incremental sales tax receipts for the state ($4.2 million), county ($2 million) and town ($5.8 million). Lionshead was a deteriorating retail, restaurant and bed base area with declining sales tax receipts prior to redevelopment and now, it is a vibrant neighborhood which has helped the town achieve record sales tax receipts for 2012, 2013 and 2014 year to date. A deteriorating asset has been revitalized benefitting all three taxing entities.
Regarding the property tax impact, since the district was formed in 2005, the redevelopment has had a dramatic, positive impact on property values, despite the Great Recession. Assessed valuations from properties adjacent to the redevelopment have increased in value 63 percent and generate $1.8 million more in property taxes per year, which benefits all the taxing entities including our school district RE50J ($791,000), Eagle County ($323,000), town of Vail ($179,000), and Colorado Mountain College ($152,000). This story of increased property taxes has not been well communicated and certainly demonstrates the positive impacts of redevelopment completes under URAs.
The current URA is working extremely well and while it is only natural when counties and taxing districts are scrambling to find incremental tax revenues that they look at vehicles such as URAs as potential sources for additional revenues, to modify the URA as suggested in HB 1375 will only slow the rate of revenue growth and redevelopment in our communities. This issue deserves far more study before it might be modified, if at all, and I would be pleased to assist the state in that assessment should you chose to do so.
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Andrew P. Daly
Mayor, town of Vail