Vail Resorts rejects Breckenridge’s lift-ticket tax proposal
July 27, 2015
The Breckenridge Town Council announced early Monday that talks failed between the town and Vail Resorts to partner on solving ongoing parking and transit problems.
At a final meeting Friday, July 24, representatives from Vail Resorts' corporate office refused to offer long-term funding that town officials have called critical to implementing the town's parking and transit plan. The town gave Breckenridge Ski Resort until last Friday to respond to a lift-ticket tax proposal.
"While we appreciate Vail's expression for a public/private partnership to help fund a parking garage, there was no specific offer made, and they clearly stated there was no interest in partnering on any long-term funding toward the comprehensive parking and transit plan," said Mayor John Warner in a written statement. "That doesn't solve the problem."
The town council will move forward to solve the issue with an admissions tax — or lift-ticket tax, according to the resort — which will be assessed on any company operating a for-profit activity or event that includes an admissions fee in Breckenridge.
“Vail Resorts pays that tax to the town of Vail to solve parking and transit issues but apparently not to Breckenridge.”Mark BurkeMayor Pro-Tem
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In a statement released Monday afternoon, Vail Resorts said the town rejected the company's solutions.
"First, and most importantly, Vail Resorts has offered to contribute a significant majority of the cost of a new public parking garage and do so in a way that will not pass along those costs to Breckenridge Ski Resort guests," said Kristin Kenney Williams, vice president of mountain community affairs.
Warner said the town's plan, which includes an F-Lot parking garage and enhanced bus services, requires an ongoing revenue stream the town doesn't have, which Vail Resorts disputes based on the town's strong financial position.
Vail Resorts said the town should downsize the proposed garage; and, while the company is open to a structure at F-Lot, it offered to use its land at the South Gondola Lot for a garage, which Kenney Williams said would solve issues raised with the F-Lot location.
"This tax will be paid by all resort guests in Breckenridge, including season pass holders. Imposing a tax on all skiers and snowboarders to pay for a garage that many will never use is not appropriate," Kenney Williams said. "The town is solely focused on increasing their tax revenue, rather than on solving problems."
Warner and Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Burke expressed their disappointment with the company.
"Vail Resorts pays that tax to the town of Vail to solve parking and transit issues but apparently not to Breckenridge," Burke said. "We have met nearly a dozen times specifically on this issue, and quite frankly, I'm disappointed and offended that we don't have an agreement for long-term solutions."
Kenney Williams said Vail Resorts supported the lift-ticket tax in Vail in 1966 to help the infant community.
"It is inappropriate for the town of Breckenridge of today to compare itself to the town of Vail in 1966. It is equally inappropriate to suggest that the town of Breckenridge should have a tax just because it exists in another community in Colorado," she said.
Besides the garage, the plan includes a pedestrian bridge over Park Avenue, a roundabout on Village Road at Park Avenue and enhanced free bus service.
The town spends about $3 million annually on parking and transit, and the plan would require an additional $4 million to $6 million annually, which the town said the admissions tax could supply.
Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said, "We convened a citizen parking and transit taskforce, we have had community forums and coffee talks and we commissioned a poll. Overwhelmingly, the citizens said they want these problems solved, and we want the community to help us decide. An admissions tax is the fairest way to fund our comprehensive parking and transit plan."
The council will put the tax question on the November ballot and will continue citizen engagement and town meetings on the issue.
The next "Coffee with the Council" will be at 8 a.m. Thursday, July 30, at poached breakfast bar, the new restaurant in the Main Street Station Plaza at 505 S. Main Street.
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