Breckenridge Town Council passed the first reading of an ordinance on Tuesday, allowing the town to specify how a lift-ticket tax approved by voters last November may be collected.
The 4.5-percent excise tax would be levied from lift ticket purchases at Breckenridge Ski Resort and put toward a Parking and Transportation Fund intended to improve parking, traffic, bus systems and pedestrian access within the town.
“This is just putting into process how it will actually work,” Breckenridge communications director Kim Dykstra said. “It was worded such that we would be able to interpret that and put it toward a wide variety of ways to be able to solve some of those issues.”
Over the next few weeks, the town will work with Vail Summit Resorts Inc. to craft a Memorandum of Understanding with all of the specifics. While the tax was originally proposed to create a parking structure in the town, it was expanded for a review of more long-term transportation solutions, currently being analyzed by DTJ Design and Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates.
“It’s more broad than just, say for instance, a parking structure,” Dykstra said. “There are a variety of ways we’re going to go on and try to solve some of those issues.”
The town hosted two transit meetings last Thursday to gain suggestions from the community, to be used to draft initial plans with the help of DTJ Design and Nelson\Nygaard. In April, the town will host another set of public meetings with more concrete proposals.
Some ideas brought forth by both companies included improving way finding for both pedestrians and vehicles, improving lighting and encouraging the use of public transportation.
“We know that part of the challenge is that visitors aren’t familiar with our parking reservoirs, and they kind of drive around and they’re not sure where they should go,” Dykstra said. “It’s getting them to the right parking areas.”
Breckenridge police chief Shannon Haynes, who is currently heading the town’s Parking and Transit Taskforce, noted that the town expects to have a new crosswalk-lighting system delivered soon to improve safety on Airport Road, the site of two hit-and-run accidents.
“We are making sure all these pieces are in conjunction with each other,” she said. “I think the police part brings to it the public safety mindset. But all of these potential changes have an impact broader than the scope of the police department.”
The idea for that particular crossing was brought to the committee and vetted externally before it was implemented. But it is just one small piece of the big picture of improvements to safety and transportation within the town.
“We work collaboratively when we come up with a solution,” Haynes said. “Our small group committee looks at variety of options, and looks at other communities for what works well in other places.”
If passed on second reading, the ordinance would go into effect on July 1, 2016. Dykstra said the tax funding would start flowing into the town in 2017, giving Vail Resorts time to assess lift ticket sales, collect the tax and remit it to the town.
“It’s a little bit of a formality, but now it’s our job to take what voters asked for and put it into law,” she added.