Breckenridge, Vail Resorts compromise on proposed lift ticket tax

Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.
Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.

New ballot measure will exclude season passes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The ski town showdown over a proposed lift-ticket tax in Breckenridge ended with a whimper rather than a bang, as the town and Vail Resorts reached a compromise on the issue.

According to a press release from the town, the language of the ballot measure seeking voter approval of the new tax will be tweaked to exclude season passes and summer lift tickets from what town officials have called an admissions tax.

Breckenridge is seeking funding to build a big parking structure and to address in-town transportation systematically for the long term. Vail initially opposed the tax; for a while, the two entities sparred via competing press releases and letters to the editor.

According to the town’s press release, Vail Resorts will guarantee that the tax, if passed, will raise at least $3.5 million per year, an annual amount to be increased each year by inflation.

“In the spirit of compromise, the Council felt this amount would be adequate to begin to work on the much needed improvements for this vital issue for our community,” said Breckenridge Mayor John Warner. “The community has been telling us that parking and transit are an extremely important issue for the future of Breckenridge.

“Although we may not always agree, a positive relationship with the ski area is important and the council felt this compromise still meets the community’s needs. It is still important for our citizens to remain engaged and to vote in favor of this tax in the November 3 election,” Warner said.

Breckenridge Ski Area chief operating officer John Buhler said the new deal protects as many of the resort’s customers as possible from price increases and acknowledged that the community faces parking and transit challenges.

“We have concerns regarding any tax increase, but reaching these terms protects the greatest number of Breckenridge guests. We commend the Town Council for their engagement on this topic and their willingness to address some of our concerns. We have had a spirited dialogue on this topic and are comfortable that the community is in a position to decide whether to pass this proposal in the November election.”

If passed by voters, the tax would take effect July 1, 2016 to provide time for implementing the necessary systems to collect the tax from winter lift ticket purchasers. Vail Resorts has agreed that it will not oppose the Town’s revised tax proposal slated for the ballot for the November 3 election.

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