Eagle-Vail says ‘yes’ to rec funding | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail says ‘yes’ to rec funding

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Shane Macomber/Daily file photoEagle-Vail golf golf will get some upgrades with money raised by a property tax increase voters approved Tuesday.

EAGLE-VAIL ” Eagle-Vail residents will get to swim in a new pool next summer.

Residents voted 3-1 to raise property taxes to pay for recreational facility repairs, including a new swimming pool, District Operations Manager Kim Ahmad said.

The measure, Referendum 5A, will keep the district’s mill levy, or property-tax rate the same, but higher assessed home values mean more money will be brought in than last year.

The neighborhood’s recreation facilities are all about 30 years old and in need of upgrades and repairs, supporters of the measure said. The money from 5A will be used to pay for those repairs, including a new swimming pool, new tennis courts, golf course repairs and a completion of a multi-use rec trail.

“We’re looking forward to building some new facilities due to the strong results. The ballot question passed very strongly,” Ahmad said.

Eagle-Vail resident Tracy Walters said his daughter uses the pool and park facilities, so he is glad 5A passed.

“I have a 4-year-old who was heartbroken when the pool closed early this summer,” he said.

The tax raise also buys some time for the metro district, which has been operating at a deficit since 2001, according to District Accountant Ken Marchetti.

For years the district has relied on golf course profits and utility hook-up fees for new homes to operate facilities, but as fewer new homes were built and more golf courses opened in the valley, less and less money came in, he said.

The district board has tried avoid raising taxes, Marchetti said. It heavily marketed the golf course, sold district property and cut staff salaries, he said.

The money generated from 5A will keep the district’s funds from “being spent down to zero,” Metro District Board President John Nichols said.

It will cost an estimated $20 million to maintain and run Eagle-Vail’s existing facilities over the next 20 years, and 5A will help pay for that, Nichols said.

The funds will keep the neighborhood’s recreation facilities open and pay for operation costs, Eagle-Vail Property Owner’s Association President Jeff Layman said. The property owner’s association does not run the rec facilities, but the association board supported the tax increase, he said.

“This gives us an infusion of operating cash so we can consider the options,” Layman said.

Walters said he was undecided about the issue, but he thought the mill levy was lower than it should have been the last few years anyway.

“This gives the district some breathing room to renew some of the amenities residents here originally bought into,” Walters said.

Some residents opposed the tax raise because they thought the referendum did not specify where the money would be spent and had no expiration date.

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

However, other residents said that while the plans were not specific, the neighborhood needed the cash boost.

“I would have like to see specific restrictions on how the money would be spent, but right now I don’t think the district is really in a position to do that,” Walters said.

The issue came down to recognizing the need for improving the rec facilities, resident Paul Hields said, and 5A is only the first step in those improvements.

“I believe that the passing of this controversial ballot question will encourage the metro district to continue working closely with residents, developers and the homeowners board to finalize a plan and ultimate redevelopment that everyone can be proud of,” he said.

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

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