Public comment opportunities will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and on Tuesday, Nov. 1 as the Vail Town Council reviews the proposed 2017 municipal budget. The $62 million expenditure plan is available for review on the town’s website. First reading of the budget ordinance is listed as action item 5.4 on the Oct. 18 meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers. The budget will also be reviewed in a study session format during the Town Council’s regular afternoon meeting which begins at 1:30 p.m.
As presented by Town Manager Stan Zemler, the 2017 budget proposal assumes a continuation of current service levels within a cautiously optimistic economic forecast. The spending plan also focuses on topics important to the Town Council and community at large as identified in the 2016 community survey, including housing, parking and environmental sustainability. This includes a recommended $500,000 to be used for the purchase of housing deed restrictions, continued planning and eventual construction of the Chamonix Neighborhood in West Vail as well as other implementation actions identified in the newly-adopted Housing Strategic Plan update. The budget recommendation also includes $2.1 million for water quality and landscape improvements at the East Vail interchange and $900,000 for water quality projects.
In addition, there are several new budget requests to help align resources and equipment to accommodate added service levels associated with newer capital improvements throughout town such as renovation of Booth Creek Park, the new pickleball courts at Golden Peak, medians on the frontage road and the Vail I-70 underpass
The recommended operational budget for 2017 is $37.3 million, an increase of 0.9 percent from the 2016 amended budget. As a service organization, the majority of spending in the General Fund is for staffing. For 2017, this represents $24 million, or 64 percent of total expenditures. The town’s proposed staffing level includes 310.14 full-time equivalent positions, an increase of 10.14 FTEs from the prior year. Approximately five of the new headcount requested for 2017 correspond to the town’s decision to operate the Welcome Centers internally which does not add to the town’s overall expenditures. The remaining positions relate to the additional capital investments made over the last couple of years. These additional maintenance responsibilities will support parking and roadway improvements, the new Zeke M. Pierce Skatepark and the Vail I-70 Underpass starting next winter season. The budget also proposes a maximum 4 percent performance-based merit increase.
Revenue projections include an estimated $26.1 million in sales tax collections for the coming year, an increase of 2 percent over the 2016 budget. Year to date sales tax collections in 2016 are currently up 2.2 percent from 2015 and 0.4 percent up from budget, respectively. Sales tax is the town’s largest single revenue source. Property tax collections are estimated at $4.9 million, flat with the 2016 budget. Lift tax collections of $4.9 million are projected at a five percent increase from 2016. Parking revenue of $5.2 million is a 4.2 percent increase from the 2016 budget. Revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Tax is projected at $5.8 million, a 10 percent decrease from the 2016 budget but flat with projected year-end collections. Revenue from the construction use tax is projected at $1.5 million, flat with the 2016 budget. The estimate is based on no new major redevelopment projects during the year.
General Fund reserves are projected at $23.6 million by the end of 2016 and $24.8 million by the end of 2017. Year-end reserves for all funds are projected to be $52 million by the end of 2016 and $54.6 million by the end of 2017.
As proposed, the 2017 budget includes investment in economic development initiatives of $867,000 in signature events to include $404,000 for the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships; $258,661 for Bravo! Colorado; $74,902 for Vail Jazz Festival; $48,962 for Vail International Dance Festival; $27,500 for Hot Summer Nights; and $52,012 for New Year’s Eve and Vail America Days fireworks. In addition, Town Council funding for allocations recommended by the Commission on Special Events (CSE) for multiple Cultural, Recreation and Community Events such as the GoPro Games, Vail Farmers’ Market, Taste of Vail, Oktoberfest, Snow Daze, Vail Film Festival and many others is nearly $894,000. Another $151,000 has been allocated for sponsorship of Education and Enrichment initiatives such as the Vail Symposium, Vail Valley Veteran’s Program, and the Vail Centre in support of their mission to provide the community with “an abundance of recreational, cultural and educational opportunities.” CSE funds come from Business License fees and the General Fund.
Also during the budget hearings, the Town Council will review an additional $372,792 in recommended service contributions requested by local non-profit organizations including the Colorado Ski Museum, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Eagle Valley Childcare, High Five Access Media and Eagle River Watershed Council.
A $3.75 million recommended spending plan for 2017 activities funded by the Vail Local Marketing District and its 1.4 percent lodging tax is included.
The 2017 budget also includes recommendations to invest $18 million for capital projects, which includes funding for housing and environmental sustainability. Other projects include $800,000 in snowmelt repairs on East Meadow Drive; $746,000 for added snow plow trucks, loaders and blowers; and $677,000 to fund the second phase of the Intermountain Fuels project to reduce wildfire hazards.
To comment on the budget in advance of the public hearings, email the Town Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.