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Error loses taxpayer dollars

Nicole Frey

VAIL- A pricing oversight lost taxpayers more than $70,000 last year.Dennis Gelvin, the general manager of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, undersold a condominium in the Vail Racquet Club owned by the district. While similar properties were selling at more than $300,000, Gelvin sold for just $228,000.The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District provides water and sewage services to Eagle County residents east of Wolcott.”We still made a good profit on it,” said David Viele, a member of the water and sanitation district’s board of directors. “It didn’t go as well as it should have, and we didn’t make as much as we could have, but the district didn’t lose any money. It was a positive.”The district, which owns property around the valley for its employees and partners, had originally planned to sell the condo last April when a water and sanitation district employee vacated it, Gelvin said. Contacting Gore Range Properties in February, 2005, Gelvin discovered Racquet Club condos were going for $205,000 to $251,000. Noting that the one-bedroom condo had never been improved, except for the replacement of a dishwasher, Gelvin set the price at $228,000. The sale would leave the district with a $91,000 profit, “which seemed reasonable at the time,” Gelvin said.But when the employee moved out of the apartment in April, a Colorado Department of Transportation employee moved into it while he waited for the completion of his unit at Cattail Flats in Edwards. The Cattail Flats apartment was also owned by the water and sanitation district, said Rick Sackbauer, president of the district’s board of directors. It was August by the time Kozinski moved out of the Racquet Club, and the condo was for sale. In just six months, the average price of similar Racquet Club condos had climbed to more than $300,000, but Gelvin didn’t research these new numbers.”It didn’t occur to me that the price would have changed that much in that time,” Gelvin said. “It was my mistake.”It didn’t take long for the low price to be noticed. Racquet Club owners have dibs on condos that become available, and seeing the dramatically lower price, the unit was snapped up by another Racquet Club owner.Gelvin drew up a contract for the sale and took it to the water and sanitation’s board of directors for final approval. “I spoke with the board, and they made it very clear to me that it was an error,” Gelvin said.But despite knowing the district was underselling the apartment, directors Kent Rose, Hawkeye Flaherty, Rick Sackbauer, Bob Warner and Patrick Dauphinais approved the sale. Director Arn Menconi was absent from the vote, said Jan Trueblood a paralegal with the water and sanitation district. Although Viele said he believes Gelvin made an honest mistake, he was the only director who voted against the contract. “Dennis has a lot of other things to worry about,” Viele said. “We’re not in the real estate game, but I thought we made a mistake.”Sackbauer said the mistake won’t impact the district’s work or services and is ready to put the ordeal behind him.”We discussed it, and life goes on,” Sackbauer said. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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