Avon ballot question passes council
AVON — This spring the town will ask voters to approve a new police station. The ballot language has now passed two rounds of council approval and a public hearing, making the May 3 election date official.
The ballot question specifies a cost not to exceed $6.5 million on the facility, to be paid for using certificate of participation financing. While Colorado state law stipulates that municipalities must seek voter approval before taking on millions in debt, certificate of participation bonds are annually renewed and not considered constitutional debt, therefor do not require voter approval.
In 2010, several million dollars in of certificate of participation bonds were approved to pay the town’s share of the Swift Gulch Regional Transportation Facility, and in 2014, the council approved using certificates of participation to pay for $3.8 million in street improvements. The town council did not seek voter approval on either of these certificate of participation bond issues.
In 2015, however, a referendum election was put before voters after the council approved certificate of participation funding on the purchase and remodel of the Skier Building for the purposes of relocating town hall there. That referendum was organized by a group of Avon voters who said they were tired of the certificate of participation bonds and their ability to put the town in debt without voter approval. The voters rejected the certificates of participation on the Skier Building, 418 to 229.
Since that election, Avon officials have been more careful in their support of anything involving certificates of participation. While voter approval will not be necessary in the effort to relocate the police station, the town will seek it anyway on May 3.
Examining the town’s debt in his decision to support the police station, Avon resident Michael Cacioppo said he wasn’t aware of the more than $6 million in certificate of participation bond approvals from 2010 and 2014.
“That’s what I hate about certificates of participation, they don’t seem to show up on the balance sheet,” he said.
However, “it’s not going to preclude me from supporting the issue,” he said. “I don’t happen to think that $6 million is a lot of debt for this town.”
TIMING WITH FIRE DISTRICT
Avon’s election will coincide with an Eagle River Fire and Protection District election to put a fire station on the same site as the police station in an adjacent building. If the fire station were to be approved in the election and the police station rejected, then it is likely a fire station will still be built at the proposed location, where the Swift Gulch, Nottingham and Buck Creek roads meet in Avon. If the opposite scenario were to transpire, then other locations will be considered for a police station.
The proposed police station is 10,419 square feet, “sized to meet the needs of the Avon Police Department for the next 40-50 years,” based upon a review of comparable police stations in peer communities.
While the fire station component, if approved, will result in a property tax increase for those living in the district, the Avon police station will not. It’s something the council wants to make clear to voters — in fact, the first few words of the ballot question are “Without raising taxes …”
Avon’s plan is to pay for the police station out of the capital improvement projects fund, which receives money from the town’s real estate transfer tax, a 2 percent fee on all land sold in town.
ARCHITECT, CONTRACTOR TO HIT GROUND RUNNING
The architect on the project, Davis Partnership Group, is currently in the process of moving forward with design development and preparation of final construction plans. The design development plans are expected to be completed on Wednesday and submitted to the contractor, Evans Chaffee Construction Group, who will seek out competitive bids from subcontractors.
“The design development pricing will be used to develop the guaranteed maximum price for the project and included in the Evans Chaffee Construction Group contract,” the council was told in a recent memo from town engineer Justin Hildreth. “The construction plans will be completed on May 20. Assuming the May 3 election is successful; the contractor will then obtain the building permit and will mobilize around Aug. 1. Construction can be completed and the building occupied by the end of 2017.”