There are a couple of ballot questions in the upcoming election for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.
At the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Colorado has recently enacted regulations that place strict limits on the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus into rivers and streams. Those two nutrients damage the aquatic habitat, stimulating the growth of algae.
Compliance with these regulations is not optional and will require extensive improvements to the existing wastewater plants in Vail, Avon and Edwards.
The district’s two ballot questions will enable it to pursue the least expensive alternative for paying for the $25 million it will take to make the upgrades.
The first ballot question asks for your permission to use a general obligation bond — which has the lowest interest rates — of the options that are available to pay for the upgrade.
The second asks your permission for the ability to spend this bond issue to upgrade the plants and also to pursue state grants that will further reduce the expense. Voting “yes” does not waive your TABOR rights to vote on any future tax increases. That provision will remain intact.
This increase in expense will be seen first in 2017 and the owner of a home valued at $500,000 will see a property tax increase of $2.11 because an existing tax will expire in 2016.
Should the questions fail to achieve voter approval the district’s likely option will be to raise monthly service rates to back the loan. The interest rates for this type of loan will result in a higher overall borrowing cost to the taxpayers.
So, paradoxically, a “no” vote will result in more public money being spent to fund the improvements while a “yes” vote will provide the most cost-effective funding.
I’m voting “yes.”