Eagle-Vail gets ready to vote
Eagle-Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – Does Eagle-Vail need new fees? Should the pavilion get a makeover?
Those are just a few of the topics candidates for the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District address below. The metro district is a quasi-governmental body that oversees parks and recreation in Eagle-Vail.
Three seats on the metro district board are up for grabs in the May 4 election. Election winners will serve four-year terms.
Tom Allender and Reed Ford are seeking re-election. The third seat opening up belongs to Cindy Gilbert, who reached her term limit.
Four challengers are vying for the board seats. Carl Luppens, 57, is a rancher and real estate developer who lives in Eagle-Vail half the time and plans to live there full-time within the year. Steven Kirchner, 44, is a property manager with Eagle Eye Home Management Inc., Jane Ross, 48, is a broker associate with Vail Realty, and Keith Odza, 39, works in hospitality. All three are full-time Eagle-Vail residents.
As for the incumbents, Allender, 57, is a director of resort planning with Vail Resorts while Ford, 65, is a retired information technology entrepreneur.
Here, candidates weigh in on some of the issues facing Eagle-Vail.
Tom Allender: My experience, education and collaborative approach to decision-making. I’ve been on the metro district board and Eagle-Vail’s representative on the Regional Water Authority Board for the last four years. In that time I have come to understand the district’s financial and operational strengths and weaknesses, and will keep both in mind while working for the community of Eagle-Vail.
Reed Ford: I am vitally invested in the future of Eagle-Vail. I believe deeply that the facilities of Eagle-Vail mirror the community itself and, as we continue to update the facilities, we enhance the value of our homes. I will implement the experience I have gained over the past years and continue to advocate for the updating and improvement of our community.
Steven Kirchner: I feel the metro board would benefit from the perspective of a younger family. I am a board member of the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association design review committee. I am current on many of the challenges facing the Eagle-Vail community. I helped guide the process of the Urban Land Institute Study, community manager search, redesign of Pavilion Park, pool and tennis facility.
Carl Luppens: Eagle-Vail needs better financial and operational management. I have repositioned major real estate projects, always on schedule and under budget. I was the first to identify the pending financial problems of the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District. I was a founding member of the development committee to try to provide oversight for Eagle-Vail projects and to get more forthright communications from the metro district and Eagle-Vail Property Owners’ Association boards.
Keith Odza: Serving in the hospitality business for the past 17 years, I understand guest service and the importance of listening to each person for their suggestions. Also, working with homeowners, associations and boards of directors on a daily basis has given me a great deal of experience in listening to homeowners input and in understanding the procedures a board has to follow.
Jane Ross: As a broker, I have to listen to what clients want . . . putting myself in their shoes and thinking about exactly what they need. Eagle-Vail is a diverse community with all different types of people. I will work with the community to come up with solutions that work for everyone, not just for one group or another.
TA: Yes, both are in need of renovation. To that end a committee of residents have been given the task to research and make recommendations to the board on what type of renovations should be made and, in the case of the tennis building, what additional uses, if any, should be made of the building. I look forward to their recommendations.
RF: Both buildings have had little maintenance since they were built 40 years ago. The pavilion needs the windows replaced and acoustic modifications. The tennis building is structurally sound but needs a new roof and siding to match new pool building next door. There is a committee discussing other modifications and I await their recommendations.
SK: Yes, the tennis facility repairs were part of the 5A program. I feel if we are going to have a tennis center, we need to update and maintain it properly. The pavilion also needs maintenance and repairs. I feel the level of repairs and upgrades will depend on the moneys available and the product that residents would like to see.
CL: Everything in Eagle-Vail needs renovation but we can’t afford, today, to do it all. Resources must be prioritized to serve the greatest number of residents in the most cost effective manner possible. Until we have a comprehensive, long-term financial and strategic plan, we shouldn’t engage in random projects.
KO: Both Facilities do need renovations. However, we, as a community, need to decide if the tennis courts stay where they are before the tennis building is discussed. The pavilion is a great asset to our community and needs to be studied as to how to renovate and enhance it for future use.
JR: Pavilion – needs some renovations to make it more attractive for those wanting to rent it for events. I would look at costs versus potential revenues before making a decision as to exactly what should be done. Tennis building – needs a new roof definitely. Other renovations should be put off until future plans for this building are set.
TA: Yes. The primary source of funding is property taxes and with declining property values, tax revenues decrease. The economy and the resulting decline in golf revenues impacts the district. Increased assessments and 5A have helped with the ongoing operation and upgrades of our facilities but additional funds will be needed. A voter-approved, 1-percent real estate transfer assessment would be reasonable.
RF: Eagle-Vail residents have made it clear that they are paying the maximum in taxes and fees. Future sources of revenue should be civic assessments on retail sales and increased rentals from the upgrades to the pavilion.
SK: Yes, I feel that we need to explore other options for revenue in Eagle-Vail. I feel that partnering with other entities to maximize our assets will help. However we need other funding for the long-term sustainability of Eagle-Vail. I feel that the real estate transfer assessment is an option to consider as well as civic assessment.
CL: Reasonable user fees, particularly from non-residents and tourists, are appropriate. Residents should not subsidize non-resident and tourist recreation with our property taxes. A little more “pay as you go” pricing would help allocate financial resources in accord with residents’ real use and desires and not just a few people’s pet projects.
KO: Eventually Eagle-Vail will need more revenue for future capital improvements. Unfortunately, the Eagle-Vail Metro District has only one funding source: property taxes. Any future tax increase should have full community input and public support, including citizen participation at every step of the process.
JR: As property tax revenues decrease, we have to come up with other sources. However, I believe that specific uses, long-range planning and community input are a must before adding more taxes. Also, any added civic tax affecting our businesses will require feedback from the business owners (if customers buy in our stores because the sales tax is lower).
TA: Yes, but only if the community supports a transfer assessment. A real estate transfer assessment requires a ‘yes’ vote from 51 percent of property owners. A non vote is considered a ‘no’ vote, so the final decision is absolutely in the hand of the community. A real estate transfer assessment could provide a reliable long term funding mechanism for Eagle-Vail.
RF: Enacting a real estate transfer assessment would require a majority of home owners to approve a rewrite of the Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association declarations. I would let the homeowners make that determination.
SK: Yes, I feel that the residents should vote and decide for themselves.
CL: I do not support a transfer tax. The answer to our problems is not raising taxes and property owners association dues and fees. It is better operations. Many of us chose to buy in Eagle-Vail precisely because of low taxes. We should not ask for more money, especially after the recent big tax and fee increases, until we demonstrate that we can properly manage the funds we currently receive.
KO: I do not support a real estate transfer assessment at this time. Eagle-Vail needs to perform on the 2009 5A funded projects and formulate a long-term financial plan that homeowners agree to before asking for more money.
JR: I feel that the real estate transfer assessment should not be implemented until further definitions and exceptions are in place. Exceptions, such as, for first-time homeowners, or a grandfather clause for those who have lived here for five years or more, etc. Additionally, I would like input from the whole community in order to find out what works best for them.
TA: There are two rules pertaining dogs in Eagle-Vail. The county voice control rule and our covenant leash law. The county rules are out of Eagle-Vail’s control while the covenants could be changed. To me the larger issue and the one I am most concerned with is dogs running at large and some dog owners not picking up after their dogs.
RF: Eagle-Vail is bound by its covenants and by Eagle county’s dog control laws. I would support any changes that a majority of homeowners adopt in any changes to the declarations. I support designating a dog park as long as it is policed and maintained by its users.
SK: I feel that the rules are clear. I have suggested that we create a dog park on the east and west ends of Eagle-Vail for the dog owners.
CL: The metro district manages Eagle-Vail’s major recreational assets. We have a $2 million budget, over $10 million in assets, just incurred over $7 million in debt, and face impending financial disaster due to the estimated $20 million in capital required to maintain facilities . I want to focus on these issues. Dogs and such issues are property owners association matters.
KO: Owning a dog is a big responsibility and that comes with following all the rules that are currently in place, including our property owners association and county regulations.
JR: Living on the West Park, I see a lot of dogs. What I see is that those owners who are out playing with their dogs off the leash are not the problem. The problem is those dogs that are unattended. Further discussions are in order on designated dog parks or doggie parties at the park as previously was planned.
TA: The golf course staff and the golf committee are working with a golf course architect with goals of improving pace of play, decreasing maintenance cost, removing and upgrading sand traps, leveling tee boxes and replacing some problem greens. Some holes are proposed to change. I am on the golf committee and fully support this budgeted effort.
RF: The 5A election and subsequent bond sale allocated $1.8 million for golf course improvements. Those improvements are in the design and specification process now.
SK: I am not a golfer. However I enjoy the winter activities the golf course offers. The metro district is working on a comprehensive plan for repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the course. Residents should to check the Eagle-Vail Web site and attend the regular meetings and work sessions to see what improvements and changes are in store.
CL: Like private sector businesses, we have to deliver a better product and service for less. The golf course has been poorly managed. Eagle-Vail residents have been subsidizing non-resident and tourist play. The deferred maintenance is distressing. I am not an avid golfer but am familiar with what makes a course attractive and an asset to a community and how such a course should be operated.
KO: I am on the golf course committee and an architect is proposing changing, fixing and removing several sand traps, fixing tee boxes and greens. I support all these changes, along with other improvements our superintendent may need, as long as it fits within the budget.
JR: In order to deter large unplanned capital costs, the golf course needs to be kept up-to-date and in good condition within budgetary limits. Marketing has become a necessary component of our golf course operations and should be enhanced to achieve the highest revenues possible.
TA: The board has been evaluating the possibility of a lease-purchase agreement for office space in Emerald Acres. While I agree with the need to consolidate our staff in one location and there is a need for meeting space, I’m not in favor of this proposal. The space is too large and I’m concerned at the added expense.
RF: As an entrepreneur, I learned to manage and stretch meager finances to make my businesses thrive. I will continue to use that expertise to manage the metro district’s financial resources and make the most of our dollars.
SK: I feel fortunate to be a resident of Eagle-Vail. I have chosen to be an active participant in the process. I ask that anyone who can make the time to attend meetings or volunteer for a committee do so. I humbly ask for your vote.
CL: The attempt to secretly buy an office building was wrong for the community. We must reign in private agendas and concentrate on renewing and rebuilding in an orderly, efficient and cost-effective way. Eagle-Vail has great potential. We need open, forthright communications. We are a small community – it should be friendly and open. We should be able to achieve broad consensus and avoid infighting.
KO: It is imperative to have good communication on a more frequent basis. This would include: posting to our Web site meeting agendas, minutes, announcements, and e-mail blasts on important topics and a monthly e-mail report from community manager. Having new leadership and fiscal responsibility in the coming years will help Eagle-Vail prosper for many years to come.
JR: Our Web site needs to be more interactive and updated more frequently with current issues so homeowners can get updated information. Planned community meetings (i.e., quarterly) would also improve homeowners’ ability to have their opinions be heard. I want Eagle-Vail’s neighborhood and recreational improvements to be within budget and keeping property values high while curbing unnecessary spending.
Editor’s note: The metro district and property owners’ association Thursday night voted against investigating buying an office building.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.