Vail Daily column: Housing issue is complex
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.
The Colorado Constitution requires that any tax increase must be uniform in its application, but to make the property tax increase acceptable to the voters, the town is considering rebating all or part of the property tax to full-time residents. That means the burden of the proposed tax will fall on second-home owners who have no say in town elections. Thus, those who use town services the least, because they are only in Vail on a part-time basis, would be required to pay the full amount of the tax increase.
This may be illegal. Rebates can only be used for a “public purpose,” and passing a tax increase is not a public purpose. Already concerns about the legality and fairness are being heard.
The Vail Homeowners Association fully supports the provision of affordable housing. However, with almost no available sites within the town limits, this is a complex problem that calls for leadership and a community/county-wide solution. It borders on foolishness for the town and county governments to be working separately on the same problem.
The Vail Homeowners Association urges community leaders to work together to find realistic, responsible solutions, and if they involve tax increases, which is most probable, that they be brought to the voters only after there are concrete plans in place. The Vail Homeowners Association also strongly urges that any proposed tax increase be soundly legal. The town does not need another round of contentious litigation. For now, the Town Council should say “no” to this ill-defined idea. That way, when it is brought to the voters, they will have specific proposals to evaluate when deciding whether to authorize a tax increase.
As already reported, the town is moving to address one glaring aspect of public safety, frontage road parking. By creating more parking facilities, parking on the frontage roads will be reduced or eliminated thus increasing public safety. Of course, if the tax issue is rushed to the ballot without the necessary consensus building, it could be doomed to failure which would ensure that this particular public safety issue will remain for years to come.
This action on parking is none too soon. With the crush of Labor Day still to come, Vail has already had more than 17 days of illegal Frontage Road parking this summer. That parking is illegal because, unlike the winter season, there is no agreement in place to authorize the town to utilize frontage roads for summer parking. And because the parking is illegal, Vail is going to be on the hook for any accident that happens; something that virtually all concede is bound to happen sooner or later.
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.