Eagle-Vail asks voters for $10.8 million
What about that $6,000?
Opponents of Eagle-Vail’s ballot issue for a tax increase have questioned a $6,000 contribution to the issue committee supporting the measure.
Here’s what happened:
The Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association wrote that check. Since that’s a private, nonprofit organization, the contribution was legal.
The Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District, on the other hand, is an elected board and governed by a state constitutional amendment that prohibits local governments from providing any material assistance to political campaigns.
While the property owners and metro district boards meet together often, they’re separate entities, governed by different sets of state law. Since the property owners group made the contribution, it’s a legal use of funds.
EAGLE-VAIL — Voters are being asked to approve a bond issue that would raise more than $10.8 million for projects including a new clubhouse for the golf course. That proposal has generated some controversy in the area.
The idea, ballot issue 5A, has been under discussion for about a year. Ballots were mailed last week to community residents.
The proposal would relocate the golf course clubhouse to the valley floor, then sell the property the current clubhouse and its across-the-street parking occupy. The proposal also calls for improvements and upgrades to the small parks in the community and replacing the existing tennis courts, including adding pickleball courts. The proposal would also allocate money for an extension of the Eagle-Vail Trail to Meadow Mountain in Minturn.
Michael Connolly has been a member of the community development committee and also serves on the issue committee that’s promoting the tax question.
That group, Neighbors for the Future of Eagle-Vail, has posted a number of yard signs around the community.
MOVING THE CLUBHOUSE?
During a phone conversation, Connolly said that the proposal came from development committee discussions about the age and location of the current clubhouse. Those discussions led to preliminary designs for relocating the current facility.
The idea behind moving the clubhouse — but not the first tee — is to create a facility that will be used by more residents. Connolly said the new clubhouse could provide food and beverage services to pool users and residents walking and biking in the neighborhood. The current hilltop clubhouse has only “limited use,” Connolly said.
CRITICS OF THE PLAN
The issue committee has conducted surveys, which, Connolly said, show more than 60 percent support for the bond issue. But if six people out of 10 support an idea, the remainder of those people oppose it to some degree, and the Eagle-Vail tax question has some vocal critics.
At a Thursday joint meeting of the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District board of directors and the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association board, several residents expressed their doubts about the proposal’s cost and effectiveness.
Community resident Tom Chastain told board members that the tax increase proposal will increase the cost of ownership in the neighborhood and could make it harder to sell existing homes.
Former board member Skip Moss echoed Chastain’s remarks, saying he’s “very concerned with the cost of living,” if the ballot issue passes.
According to the ballot issue’s legal notice, the current estimated tax hit is roughly $56 for every $100,000 of a home’s value. That means a home with a county tax valuation of $500,000 would pay an extra $290 per year in property tax.
Other critics say the proposal isn’t specific enough, especially since the district is asking for nearly $11 million — which works out to about a $24 million total repayment cost over 30 years.
“We’ve been trying to understand this proposal,” resident Steve Daniels said, adding that the 30-year bond would “create a significant tax burden” for homeowners.
Daniels added he’s skeptical about the community officials’ claim that a thorough renovation of the existing clubhouse would cost an estimated $4.5 million, believing the job could be completed for much less.
Moss is another opponent of the ballot issue.
“Our wants are exceeding our needs at this time,” Moss said, adding that the district should maintain its current clubhouse, and perhaps expand the uses at the pavilion building on the valley floor.
Moss added that the current tax increase proposal could hamstring the district if it needed to issue debt for future needs.
“I think we need to tap the brakes and consider our alternatives,” Moss said.
RESPONSE TO CRITICISM
In the phone conversation with Connolly, he said that the current cost estimates were generated in conjunction with NV5, a national construction consulting company with offices in Colorado.
“They sharpened our focus,” Connolly said.
That was deliberate, Connolly said.
“We did that purposely so we wouldn’t be spending money before (approval).”
Property owners’ association board member Cindy Gilbert responded to critics at the Thursday meeting, saying the group is working with the community’s best interests in mind.
“Whether you’re for or against, whether you think (the process) was flawed or correct … we’re also residents,” Gilbert said. “We have to take some of the expert opinions.”
While some opponents have asked the metro district to pull the ballot from consideration, Gilbert said she doesn’t believe that’s possible — the ballots have already been mailed.
“If you don’t believe in (the proposal) and it doesn’t pass, we’ll go back to the drawing board,” Gilbert said. “If it does pass, we can always make revisions.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.