Vail’s looming budget deficit: $25.8M | AspenTimes.com

Vail’s looming budget deficit: $25.8M

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” How could Vail, the ritzy resort town where homes sell for $15 million and lift tickets cost $85, see so much red in its budget?

It needs $25.8 million that it doesn’t have over the next five years, the town’s budget seems to say. It needs the money for things like new buses, road work and building repairs.

Greg Moffet, a Vail town councilman, said Vail is much more than just a town of 4,000 people. In fact, he said, there are two Vails.

“One is the town we live in, and one is the town we show to our guests,” he said.

A town of 4,000 people certainly would not heat its streets, Moffet said.

Millions of dollars are budgeted for street-heating and “streetscape” in the town over the next few years.

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The capital budget, which has the deficit, calls for things like:

– Replacing buses.

– Paving streets.

– Bridge and road reconstruction.

– New radio equipment police and fire departments.

– Parking structure maintenance.

– Reducing interstate noise.

– Paying off debt.

– A new transit center.

And what happens if Vail can’t find this $25.8 million?

“Stuff like the (West Vail) fire house,” said Councilman Mark Gordon. “That’s a big chunk of change. That’s the type of thing that might suffer. Instead of rebuilding a bridge, we might patch a piece of it.”

The shortfall is a serious matter, and the improvements need to get done eventually, said Councilman Kent Logan. The town’s growth and redevelopment over the last five years have stressed its infrastructure, he said.

“This isn’t a wish list,” Logan said.

For instance, the public works department needs to be expanded, Logan said.

“They are jammed,” Logan said.

Logan said he’d like to see more of a community discussion about the shortfall so residents can know how serious it is.

“There’s no emergency,” Logan said. “There’s no crisis. But the fact of the matter is we have an aging infrastructure that we have greatly expanded because of the redevelopment. The demand for town service has increased dramatically over the last five years.”

The redevelopment doesn’t necessarily pay for itself in terms of tax revenue, Gordon said.

“The development creates jobs, money for businesses,” he said. “As far as tax receipts, I don’t know if it’s a one-for-one payment.”

Had the construction tax been in effect from 2005 to this year, it would have raised $13 million, town officials said.

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