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Papa’s coming home

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Right now, everybody seems happy, but town manager Willy Powell can see storm clouds on the horizon. It sounds like that old computer game called SimCity. Traffic at several pinch points, which is merely annoying now during rush-hours, could congeal. New water and sewer plants will be needed soon enough, with a collective price tag of several tens of million dollars.

Meanwhile, the growth in taxes has been like a green ski trail. In Colorado, property owners pay very little in the way of residential property taxes. Only 7 per cent of towns’ revenue comes from property taxes, and much of that is from commercial properties. Sales taxes provide nearly 63 per cent of the towns’ revenues.

Powell notes that small businesses generate relatively little in the way of taxes. People spend most of their money in larger stores. Aside from places like Vail’s Bridge Street and Aspen’s Hyman Avenue, retail sales per square foot are much higher in larger stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Gart Sports, Target, and other mid- and big-box retailers than they are in small businesses.

As it so happens, a proposal for a commercial complex that would likely include Target or some other big-box retailer is now before the town board. Town trustees have not said yes, but Mayor Jon Stavney says the town cannot afford to sentimentally look backward.

"Nobody comes to Eagle to buy; and most Eagle citizens shop elsewhere for everything but groceries," he told the Eagle Valley Enterprise. "All that has to change."

National security increased

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — In response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by Islamic fundamentalists, the federal government continues to dole out grants to local governments. What this means in one resort valley of Colorado is new radios that can better link together.

The Winter Park Manifest reports that Grand County’s share this year, $160,000, which is about the same as the last two years, is being used to purchase radios that use digital technology, as well as training for use of them, to replace radios that use analog technology. The newer technology allows enhanced "interoperability," according to a government report.

One benefit of the federal bucks is that the local emergency personnel, although they had the mechanisms in place before, now have a chance to practice, to see their weaknesses and correct them, said Jim Holahan, whose salary is also the result of the federal funding. In past years, the money was used to better prepare for hazardous materials.

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