Vail Daily letter: Can’t support Eagle-Vail tax
November 2, 2016
I've witnessed over the years many proposals to balance or increase Eagle-Vail's financial well-being, many of these ideas coming from committed citizens who have taken on the responsibility of leading Eagle-Vail into the future. Some ideas have been embraced by the community, others soundly rejected. I've heard from community members whose grasp of financial and municipal dealings go well beyond my knowledge. The common themes that I agree with are fiscal responsibility and well-planned improvements and changes that will add to the overall experience of living in Eagle-Vail. I am not one who believes that all Eagle-Vail decisions must revolve around increasing our property values.
This brings me to the upcoming ballot issue that faces our community. A 2.9 percent sales tax increase for: "The Eagle-Vail Board of Governors envisions using the revenue for street improvements and maintenance, sidewalks, parking lot maintenance and improvements, bike trails and other potential transportation services, such as a chairlift and bus services".
Even with other ballot proposals for Eagle County that would increase my overall taxes, I had decided that I would support Eagle-Vail and vote "yes" on the sales tax increase, seeing this as an investment in Eagle-Vail's infrastructure, opportunity for mindful growth and community improvement. I was disheartened to see in the ballot proposal the inclusion of "other potential transportation services, such as a chairlift." I had recently sent a letter to a board member asking about the probability and reasoning behind an Eagle-Vail chairlift. My main questions and concerns were:
• What are the costs of building and maintaining a chairlift? Would Vail Resorts be involved?
• Where would actual revenue come from? Are increased property values a large revenue source? Is a five-month increase in visitors worth the investment and inevitable changes to the community?
• What about parking?
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• Who is the chairlift for and how many people could potentially use it?
• Would the Stone Creek Valley be fragmented with the cutting of ski runs?
• Is there already U.S. Forest Service support for a chairlift expansion and has the permit process been instituted?
It appears to me that these questions are still on the table and unresolved.
Finally, the Stone Creek Valley may be the only undeveloped side valley remaining. From Vail to Edwards, I cannot think of another undeveloped side valley. As a community in an ever expanding population center, I for one take pride in having Stone Creek remain somewhat wild. A place for quiet and a refuge for wildlife. I may be overreacting to the concept of a possible chairlift in Eagle-Vail's future but I cannot support what I believe to be an ill-conceived and presumptive idea that not only would take away some of our tax dollars but will move Eagle-Vail in a direction I do not believe in.
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