"Coalition’ wins VRD race; ‘de-Brucing’ measure passes
The three newest VRD board members – Anthony “Nino” Licciardi, Julie Hansen and Peter Cook – also known as the “coalition” during the hotly-contested race for three seats on the 5-member board, won by a clear margin, leaving the remaining five candidates, including two incumbents, behind by more than 100 votes.
Licciardi, a 46-year-old property manager, who has been the most vocal of the trio, received the highest vote-count with 476 ballots containing his name. Julie Hansen, 48, a local accountant, was runner-up with 459 votes and Peter Cook, a 62-year-old part-time ski instructor and financial consultant, received 417 of a total of nearly 800 votes cast.
With a voter turnout of nearly 18 percent, Tuesday’s VRD candidate election attracted the attention of nearly twice as many district voters than the election four years ago, when eight candidates competed for three seats on the same board.
This election’s incumbent candidates, Ross Davis Jr. and Nancy Stevens, who had easily won seats four years ago, lost by a decisive margin. Stevens, who on Monday made headlines for her decision to stuff unauthorized fliers into newspapers in distribution boxes, received 128 votes less than Cook and drew even with newcomer candidate Kevin Deighan, who also received 289 votes.
Davis, a two-term VRD board member, was voted out of office with 171 votes cast in his favor.
Ed Morgan and Amy Domke, two newcomer candidates without connections or experience, got 67 and 49 votes, respectively.
Seven of the candidates could be reached by the time the election results were posted at 10:15 p.m.
Davis who waited for the results to be released, appeared stunned and said he had no comment.
The coalition candidates have been challenging the board’s two-year-old decision to spend $3.5 million renovation project of Dobson. The district, instead of asking voters or the town for money, chose to finance the project through revenue bonds.
During the race, Licciardi, Cook and Hansen accused the current VRD board of risking the future of other recreation programs, including golf and youth sports, by burdening the district with $270,000 in annual debt payments for the next 20 years.
Ross and Davis, meanwhile, defended their track record, saying the renovation project was unavoidable and that the district’s budget is healthy, despite the debt payments.
The coalition, which campaigned on a platform of change and financial responsibility, will have a chance to make a good first impression May 14, when they will be seated on the new VRD board. They will join Hermann Staufer and Tom Saalfeld, whose terms aren’t up for election for another two years.
“De-Brucing’ measure passes
A clear majority of Vail Recreation District voters said “yes” Tuesday to “de-Bruce” the district’s property tax collections, effectively allowing the district to collect approximately $70,000 in additional property tax revenues starting this year.
The approved measure allows the district to retain and spend revenues exceeding the TABOR limitations of 5.5 percent.
Instead, the district will be allowed to spend property tax funds collected without limitations from growing property values within the recreation district which encompasses town of Vail city limits.
Nearly three-fourths of the electors, or 550 voters, supported the “de-Brucing measure. Only 192 votes were cast against de-Brucing the recreation district.
Lifting the recreation district’s tax spending limits will take effect, retro-actively, from Jan. 1 of this year.
The recreation district joins more than 300 municipalities and special districts across the state, which have done away with the TABOR amendment, enacted by the Colorado State Legislature 10 years ago.
TABOR, or the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, began as a citizens’ initiative sponsored by anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce, a Colorado Springs real estate investor and landlord.
The recreation district assesses a 2.76 mill levy on property taxes within the district.
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.