Summit Daily editorial: Lift-ticket tax needed to build a better Breck
We’re not the first to say it, but it bears repeating: Breckenridge measure 2A is about far more than just a parking garage — that universal, Brutalist symbol of The End of Authenticity as We Know It.
Nothing more authentic than unmanageable traffic and dirt parking lots, right guys? Don’t build it and they won’t come, right?
We all know better.
There’s nothing specific in Breckenridge’s soul or identity that aligns it with road congestion and poor connectivity. There’s nothing to suggest that neglecting our infrastructure will keep the Front Range hordes at bay.
The so-called lift-ticket tax is a laudable solution to a problem that affects us all. If approved, 2A would help fund absolutely esssential improvements, including a pedestrian bridge, more employee parking, road improvements (more roundabouts!), increased bus services (more routes, more buses) and, yes, a big, honking parking garage.
We believe this measure is necessary to keep Breckenridge moving along. It deserves your support when you cast your ballot.
Breckenridge is growing, both in its full-time workforce and in its reputation as a year-round recreation destination. We, as locals, can’t ignore our transit problem in the hope that tourists will go elsewhere and turn every season into the off-season. They won’t go away (And, to be sure, we don’t really want them to). However, traffic will get much worse if we don’t take decisive action to invest in our transportation system.
Here’s the thumbnail sketch of what 2A would do if approved: Starting on July 2016, the town would impose a 4.5 percent sales tax on lift tickets purchased for Breckenridge Ski Resort. That’s $4.50 added on to a $100 lift ticket purchased online, for example.
The tax likely won’t impact you much if you’re a Breckenridge voter. Like retail marijuana, you won’t feel the financial impact unless you choose to buy the product. And what self-respecting local buys lift tickets?
You know what won’t be affected by the new tax? Season passes, multi-resort lift tickets and summer activities. That mostly spares locals from the tax burden, meager as it is, and shifts it to a particular visitor segment.
Therein lies the tension that originally sparked an ugly feud between the town and Vail Resorts. Understandly, the optics of supporting a tax that mainly fell on visitors weren’t positive for VR. Predictably, VR dug in its heels and came out strongly against the plan.
Well, the town and Vail eventually patched things up and came to a compromise. Good for them and for us.
If the measure passes, Vail Resorts has agreed to pay the town $3.5 million in tax revenue at minimum. That amount will increase annually to adjust for inflation.
This is a modified version of what VR is already doing in Vail. It seems to be working there, and it is something Breckenridge must do to overcome its growing pangs and blossom into a premier ski destination.
Some might say the town didn’t bargain hard enough with Vail Resorts in order to come up with a more favorable and lucrative result. However, the VR PR machine would have continued to come full-force against the measure had the town not made some concessions. That could have left the town with no consistent revenue stream with which to address much-needed traffic and transit concerns. Not an ideal outcome. As part of a compromise, VR pledged not to speak out against the measure.
We’re not overjoyed about any tax hike, but we think folks from the Front Range or far-flung travellers in town for Christmas break will be willing to pay a bit more for their ticket if it prevents the high-season gridlock that we all have come to loathe.
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