A public hearing will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20 as the Vail Town Council prepares for final approval of the 2016 municipal budget. The $72.4 million expenditure plan is available for public review and comment. The budget item is listed seventh on Tuesday’s meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers.
In preparing the recommended budget, Town Manager Stan Zemler says the plan continues Vail’s tradition of conservative budgeting while placing an emphasis on operational adjustments that will help sustain incremental service increases in transit, facilities and special events. This includes adjusting the full-time employee headcount by seven employees for previously approved bus and parking services and adding five employees, ultimately returning staffing levels to that of 2009.
The recommended operational budget for 2016 approved on first reading by the Town Council on Oct. 6 is $36.7 million, an increase of 2.9 percent from the 2015 amended budget. As a service organization, the majority of spending in the General Fund is for staffing. For 2016, this represents $23.1 million, or 63 percent of total expenditures. The town’s proposed staffing level includes 300.3 full-time equivalent positions, an increase of 12.7 FTEs from the prior year to address the increased service levels in facilities, special events, transit, cleanliness and other guest service functions. In addition, the budget includes a proposal to add a police drug investigator as a pilot program as well as additional firefighter to increase coverage for emergencies. The budget also proposes a maximum five percent performance based merit increase.
Revenue projections include an estimated $25.6 million in sales tax collections for the coming year, an increase of 4.5 percent over the 2015 amended budget. Year to date sales tax collections in 2015 are currently up 4 percent from 2014 and 2 percent up from budget, respectively. Sales tax is the town’s largest single revenue source. Property tax collections are estimated at $4.9 million, a 14.2 percent increase from the 2015 amended budget. Lift tax collections of $4.7 million are projected at a seven percent increase from 2015 and include a small increase for new summer on-mountain activities. Parking revenue of $4.2 million is a five percent increase from the 2015 budget. Revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Tax is projected at $6.5 million, a five percent decrease from 2014 which was a top collection year second only to 2008. Revenue from the construction use tax is projected at $1.5 million, a 2.9 percent decrease from the 2015 amended budget. The estimate is based on no new major redevelopment projects during the year.
General Fund reserves are projected at $19.0 million by the end of 2015 and $19.2 million by the end of 2016. Year-end reserves for all funds are projected to be $49.9 million by the end of 2015 and $40.8 million by the end of 2016.
As proposed, the 2016 budget includes investment in economic development initiatives of nearly $860,000 in signature events to include $400,000 for the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships; $256,100 for Bravo! Colorado; $74,160 for Vail Jazz Festival; $47,380 for Vail International Dance Festival; $28,325 for Hot Summer Nights; and $51,500 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 $885,000, including administrative expenses and ROI research initiatives. The Town Council has also approved an additional $150,000 for sponsorship of Education and Enrichment initiatives such as the Vail Symposium, Vail Valley Veteran’s Program, the Vail Centre in support of their mission to provide the community with “an abundance of recreational, cultural and educational opportunities.” CSE funds come out of the Business License fees and the General Fund.
Also during the budget hearing, the Town Council will review an additional $345,635 in recommended service contributions requested by local non-profit organizations including the Colorado Ski Museum, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Eagle Valley Childcare, TV5 and Eagle River Watershed Council.
The Vail Local Marketing District, funded by a 1.4% lodging tax will spend $3.3 million on summer marketing efforts.
The 2016 budget also includes recommendations to invest $30 million for capital projects including $5 million for renovation of the Municipal Building; $3.5 million for replacement of eight buses; $3.2 million for construction of the I-70 Vail underpass in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation; $2 million for redevelopment of Booth Creek Park; $1.5 million for renovation of the East Vail Fire Station; $1.2 million for street maintenance; $1 million for Golden Peak recreational facilities improvements; $1 million for water quality projects; $700,000 for bridge repairs; $675,000 for parking structure maintenance; $500,000 in matching grant funding for renovation of the Colorado Ski Museum; $3.9 million for the Vail golf clubhouse and Nordic center, and $70,000 for police body cameras.
To comment on the budget in advance of Tuesday’s public hearing, email the Town Council at email@example.com.