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Proposed 2018 Vail Municipal Budget Available for Public Review

  • 13 October 2017
Proposed 2018 Vail Municipal Budget Available for Public Review
Public comment opportunities will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 17 as the Vail Town Council considers final adoption of the 2018 municipal budget. The $78.9 million expenditure plan is available on the town’s website. Second reading of the budget ordinance is listed as public hearing item 6.1 on Tuesday’s meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers.

The 2018 budget proposal assumes a continuation of high service levels within a conservative economic forecast. The spending plan also focuses on topics important to the Town Council and community at large as identified in the biennial community survey and the Town Council Action Plan. This includes housing, environmental sustainability and parking/transportation. Budgeted initiatives addressing these priorities include the completion and sale of the 32 Chamonix Vail homes, which will refund $17.7 million of the town’s $22.1 million investment. The town has subsidized the development with land and infrastructure costs of approximately $4.3 million. Other budgeted housing programs include the Vail InDeed deed restriction program, which has $3.7 million in funding allocated to the purchase of deed restrictions on Vail homes.

With an aim toward achieving a goal to acquire an additional 1,000 resident housing unit deed restrictions as outlined in the Vail Housing 2027 Plan, the budget identifies a two-pronged approach. This includes structuring a new fund that will allow for the continued build-up of fund balances that will, in turn, enable expenditures of capital toward projects and deed restriction purchases. The town will also pursue the formation of a new housing department to implement programs and projects that emerge from the 2027 plan.

Actions to support environmental sustainability include funding to continue implementation of the Gore Creek Water Quality Plan, implementation of global sustainable destination certification, a continuation of Actively Green programming and ongoing recycling and plastic bag education. New programming includes a recycling challenge for Vail businesses to encourage increased commercial recycling and a proposal for participation in the Energy Smart Colorado Partnership to help meet the town’s climate goals.

Parking and pedestrian safety are included in the capital plan with a continuation of the pedestrian safety enhancement projects, which has been phased over a three-year period beginning in 2016. Included in the 2018 plan is $1.5 million for additional pedestrian crosswalks and lighting at the Town Center and West Vail roundabouts. The budget also carries funding for a new parking structure at Red Sandstone Elementary School which will begin construction in 2018. With a $4.3 million contribution from Vail Resorts and $1.5 million from the Eagle County School District, the $15 million structure is an example of a successful public-private partnership solving town-wide issues.

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 the Vail I-70 Underpass which will be completed this fall.

The recommended operational budget for 2018 is $39.5 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 2017 amended budget. An additional $475,000 in planning projects is proposed to be funded from reserves. As a service organization, the majority of spending in the General Fund is for staffing. For 2018, this represents $25.6 million, or 65 percent of total expenditures, which includes benefits and a 4 percent proposed merit increase based on employee performance.

The town’s proposed staffing level includes 313.92 full-time equivalent positions, an increase of 3.52 FTEs from the prior year. This includes the addition of a seasonal heavy equipment operator, two seasonal summer bus drivers, an additional building inspector, two seasonal winter bus drivers, a one-year extension of a water quality education coordinator fixed-term position and continuation of a drug task force officer in the Police Department.

Over the past 10 years, the town has added 14.4 employees, or 4.8 percent of the total headcount. The majority of headcount additions over the years have focused on added services such as the new fire station in West Vail, operation of the Welcome Centers, increased bus service, parking hosts and special event staff.

Revenue projections include an estimated $87 million, which includes nearly $17 million in sales of homes at Chamonix Vail and $5.8 million in shared project reimbursement from the Red Sandstone parking structure. The remaining sources of revenue are projected at a 5.4 percent decrease from the 2017 amended budget and a decrease of 4.5 percent from the 2016 actual results.

Sales tax collections, the town’s largest single revenue source, are estimated at $26.1 million, a 2 percent increase from the 2017 amended budget and a 1.5 percent increase from 2016 actuals. Of the estimated $26.1 million in sales tax collections, 62 percent is budgeted to go towards General Fund operations and the remaining 38 percent to the Capital Projects Fund. Year-to- date collections are down 1.4 percent from the prior year due to a loss of over 400 hotel beds during the winter season and an overall slowdown in winter business. The summer months of June and July have surpassed prior years by 4.9 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Property tax collections are estimated at $5.3 million, an 8.4 percent increase from 2017 based on the most recent report from the Eagle County Assessor’s office. Lift tax collections of $5.2 million are projected at a five percent increase from 2017 based on historical annual increases. Parking revenue of $5.4 million is a 4.5 percent increase from the 2017 budget. Revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Tax is projected at $6.1 million, a 4.3 percent increase from 2017. Revenue from the construction use tax is projected at $2 million, a 2 percent increase from the 2017 budget.

General Fund reserves are projected at $27.6 million by the end of 2017 and $27.2 million by the end of 2018. Year-end reserves for all funds are projected to be $44.7 million by the end of 2017 and $52 million by the end of 2018. Reserves will be used in 2018 to fund two planning projects in town, including a West Vail master plan and a Civic Area plan for the area surrounding Dobson Ice Arena.

As proposed, the 2018 budget includes investment in economic development initiatives of $897,000 in signature events to include $404,000 for the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships; $288,000 for Bravo! Colorado; $75,000 for Vail Jazz Festival; $49,000 for Vail International Dance Festival; $27,500 for Hot Summer Nights; and $52,000 for New Year’s Eve and Vail America Days fireworks. In addition, Town Council funding for allocations recommended by the Commission on Special Events for multiple Cultural, Recreation and Community Events such as the GoPro Games, Vail Farmers’ Market, Taste of Vail, Oktoberfest, Snowdaze, Vail Lacrosse Shootout and many others is $894,000. Another $151,500 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 hearing, the Town Council will review an additional $851,822 in service contributions requested by local non-profit organizations including the Colorado Ski Museum, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Eagle Valley Childcare, High Five Access Media, Eagle River Watershed Council, Vail Memorial Park and funding of a memorial sculpture depicting Pete Seibert.

The 2018 budget also includes recommendations to invest nearly $26 million for capital projects, which includes funding for a new parking structure at Red Sandstone, housing and environmental sustainability. Other projects include $3 million in reconstruction of the Slifer Square Plaza and fountain;  $875,000 for new bus transit lanes at both Vail Village and Lionshead Transportation Centers; $250,000 for redesign and interior improvements to the Lionshead Welcome Center; $1.8 million for repairs to retaining walls and path at Dowd Junction; $1.1 million for a continuation of improvements identified in the Gore Creek Water Quality Plan; and $685,000 in capital maintenance of town-owned facilities operated by the Vail Recreation District, among others. 

A $3.4 million recommended spending plan for 2018 summer marketing activities funded by the Vail Local Marketing District and its 1.4 percent lodging tax is budgeted separately from the town’s expenditures. 

To comment on the budget in advance of the public hearing, email the Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com.

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