Eagle-Vail pool plan bothers some | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail pool plan bothers some

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL” Kristi Ferraro wants a new pool for Eagle-Vail, but she won’t vote for a ballot issue that would fund the pool by keeping property-tax rates the same.

Property values of Eagle-Vail homes increased by almost 43 percent from last year, so if the property-tax rate stayed the same, it would bring in more money to the district that oversees the neighborhood’s recreation facilities and fund more than $2.5 million in improvements on the pool, golf course and tennis courts.

But Ferraro’s problem with the ballot question, or Referendum 5A, is that it does not have an expiration date, does not designate specific projects to be funded, and does not have a limit to how much money can be spent, she said.

“I don’t like that it goes on forever in perpetuity. I’d be more likely to support it if there were a time limit or specific improvements,” said Ferraro, an Avon town councilwoman who lives with the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District.

But supporters say the referendum is a good way to raise money for much-needed repairs and improvements to Eagle-Vail recreation facilities.

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“Everything in Eagle-Vail right now is about 30 years old and has basically lived it’s life,” said Louise Funk, Eagle-Vail resident and a member of the neighborhood group supporting the issue.

Stephen Harlow, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, said he is going to vote for the referendum.

“I think it’s important. I use the parks, and my wife uses the pool,” he said.

Some residents worry that the actual ballot question doesn’t earmark a set amount of funds to specific projects. The improvement plans are still in the designing stages, and a specific budget has not been made.

“There is no plan, and there is no budget. They don’t know how much money they need,” said Amy Phillips, another Avon Town councilwoman who lives within the metro district.

The metro district should make more concrete plans, then come back to the voters with specific numbers, she said.

Her biggest concern, however, is that residents are being told there will not be a tax raise. As advertised by blue signs poking out of lawns around the neighborhood, officials and supporters are saying that the referendum will fund “Eagle-Vail upgrades without a tax rate increase.”

But Phillips said that is not true at all. While the tax rate would not change if the issue were passed, residents would still be paying more, she said.

“The thing is, my taxes will go up. I want to know what will happen if it passes, and what will happen if it doesn’t?” she said.

If the issue is not passed, the service portion of the property taxes, which makes up almost two-thirds of the tax rate, will expire in 2009 as the debt is paid off, said district accountant Ken Marchetti.

Resident Walter Dandy said he agreed that the presentation of the issue has been misleading. He was also surprised at how vague the plans were, he said.

The preliminary improvement plans presented to residents were “half-baked” and “crummy,” he said, and he doubts that the property tax funds will cover the cost of all the projects.

And how about something more than a new pool, Ferraro asked.

“Maybe we can make more of a vibrant village instead of just replacing what’s there. There’s no community center right now,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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