BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Lift tickets already cost around $100 at the Breckenridge Ski Area, but they will not be going up even more as the town of Breckenridge has decided it won’t move forward with a tax on lift tickets.
Taxes have been a hot topic in Breckenridge for the past few weeks. There have now been four controversial ideas to raise new revenue in the past few months. One has been successful, two have not, and there’s even some lawsuits pending as the town tries to get back taxes from lodging companies and homeowners.
After a vocal opposition, the town council decided not to move forward with placing a lift ticket tax on the next ballot.
“It would have gone for transit and parking enhancements for the town of Breckenridge and the Breckenridge Ski Resort,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said.
But the resort didn’t want an extra 4.5 percent added to its already pricey lift tickets.
A 5 percent tax on medical marijuana, which goes to the town, was passed by voters in November.
“It’s going to bring us about $50,000 a year,” Warner said. “If we don’t need that for legal expenses, we’re going to put that money into rehabilitations, substance abuse education, et cetera.”
It comes on the heels of a controversial mill levy increase. With property values going down, so is tax revenue for the town, so they tried to raise the mill just a bit, but backed off after public outcry.
“It would have brought in $170,000 into our coffers for child care enhancements, but we decided to pull that money out of the general fund,” Warner said.
The town has been reluctant to dip into its healthy general fund for projects. But with reserves nearing $30 million and a town budget coming out in the black last year, many are asking why the town management is seeking new revenue streams.
“General fund is kind of like a piggy bank, you don’t always go to the piggy bank to keep the snow plows rolling, and that’s why we’ve cut back a bunch.”
The mayor says the town hasn’t had revenues return to levels seen before the recession. And with an economy based on leisure and travel, the town’s not ready to waste that money in its reserves.
“I look at it differently. We’re just looking for the money we haven’t been receiving and we believe we ought to be receiving.”
There are a few lawsuits the town is spearheading. They’re going after travel websites, both commercial companies like Expedia, and smaller websites that allow homeowners to rent out their space as a vacation rental. The town says both lawsuits involve lodging taxes not being paid, and that could mean millions of dollars every year.