Ken Marchetti celebrates 25 years of special district work
Edwards-based firm has helped create, maintain many local neighborhoods
EDWARDS — If you live in Edwards, EagleVail, or any of a host of local neighborhoods, you may not think much about how your community is managed. Ken Marchetti does, and he’s had a lot to do with how those communities are run.
Marchetti just celebrated his 25th anniversary at his company, Marchetti and Weaver, an accounting firm that specializes in special district management. But the firm’s history dates back to the 1970s.
The company was founded by Lynn Robertson, who helped create the management systems for EagleVail and Edwards.
Marchetti joined the firm in 1994, as Robertson was bowing out due to health problems. Marchetti and his family were in Denver at the time. He’d just sold an accounting company, and the sale contained a clause prohibiting him from working within 100 miles of the Colorado Capitol building.
Vail was about far enough away, so Marchetti started looking into the new opportunity.
Then, as now, the biggest problem was finding a home the family could afford. Marchetti also got a quick lesson in how word travels in a small community.
On their first weekend trip to the valley, the family stopped in at an open house in Arrowhead. There, the person at the desk quickly said, “You’re here to look at (Robertson’s) practice,” she said.
“We hadn’t even talked yet!” Marchetti said.
Marchetti joined the firm in February of 1994. By April, Robertson had to stop working.
What do they do?
That meant Marchetti had a crash course in district management. In a nutshell, districts hire companies to find the best way to manage a district’s resources to provide services to residents.
Robertson was one of the pioneers in creating special districts in Colorado, starting with EagleVail, and then Beaver Creek.
Vail Associates, the precursor to Vail Resorts, wanted to look for an alternative way to provide government services. Working with Robertson, the company decided to create a metropolitan district for the fledgling base area at Beaver Creek.
Marchetti noted that towns often have powers that trump those of a resort company. A metro district is on a more equal footing, he said. And, he added, metro districts can be a more cost-effective way to provide services without starting the bureaucracy needed with an incorporated town.
Soon, special districts were being created throughout the valley, from Arrowhead to Cordillera to Lake Creek to Singletree.
Those districts have elected boards, and, at first, could levy only property taxes. Those taxes pay for roads and other community needs.
If a district is in a gated community such as Arrowhead or Cordillera, the district continues to pay for plowing and upkeep. In the case of EagleVail or Singletree, those roads then become part of the county road system.
With some districts looking for other revenue sources, Marchetti was among those who lobbied the Colorado legislature to allow districts to levy sales taxes — with district voter approval. Those sales taxes can only be imposed in unincorporated areas.
Edwards has such a tax, which was used to help fund road improvements in the area. EagleVail just implemented its own sales tax to help pay for community improvements.
Beyond neighborhoods, Marchetti has helped consolidate fire districts into what became the Eagle River Fire Protection District, which serves the area between Tennessee Pass and Wolcott.
It’s about information
Through both routine business and new initiatives, Marchetti said he sees his job as presenting information in ways people can put it to good use.
“People all want what’s best for their communities,” Marchetti said. “How do you present that in a way that’s meaningful?”
Marchetti and partner Eric Weaver work for districts around the state. One of the biggest questions they have to answer is: “How will we pay for this?”
Marchetti said he sees his job as helping district boards and residents understand what options are available to them, while staying outside of sometimes-heated debates.
Sometimes the job involves simply presenting the most cost-effective ways to pay for projects or day-to-day work.
In other cases, more creative answers are needed.
In Edwards, residents saw the need for improvements, Marchetti said. That community’s sales tax spreads funding those improvements over a broader group, including residents and visitors.
The money raised from Edwards’ sales tax was pooled with money from Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation to pay for the current road improvements in that area.
After 25 years in the valley, Marchetti said the success his firm has had is due in large part those he works with.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the team of people we have,” he said. “A majority have been here since I started.”
Longtime employee Debbie Braucht returned the compliment.
“Ken’s been a mentor to all of us,” Braucht said, adding that Marchetti’s low-key style has helped everyone in the office learn patience in sometimes-heated times.
And, while many at his stage in life are looking toward retirement, Marchetti said he might slow down, but has no immediate plans to stop working. There’s a small acreage in Gypsum to tend to, but there’s always the work at the office in Edwards.
“I’d like to keep going for at least another 10 years, 15 if I can,” he said. “I know a lot of people in retirement who love it — I’m planning to slow down, but not go anywhere.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.