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Maybe it’s time

While I’m not the history buff that Ms. Rogers is, my recollection is that the rallying cry of the American Revolution was “no taxation without representation.” The Boston Tea Party had little to do with property ownership.

Similarly, my recollection is that “one man, one vote” developed in response to crooked polititians encouraging their followers to vote more than once in the SAME place, as in “vote early, and vote often.”

Americans have rightly eliminated white and male as criteria for voting and it could be time to allow second-home owners a vote in Vail elections, especially if we place a property tax increase on the ballot. It was once true that few people owned second homes and most were fortunate to own (along with the bank) the home they lived in.

While that’s still true for many in Vail, over 70 percent of our dwelling units (and maybe 80 percent of property values) are in fact owned by people who do own more than one home. Regardless of your financial situation, owning a home, first or second, in Vail is a significant investment and that should entitle those owners a voice in our local government.

(Note: I’m not suggesting that any current voter should lose his or her right to vote, or that paying sales taxes should entitle visitors the right to vote, or that anyone be allowed to vote twice in the same election, e.g. state or federal offices.)

Rick Scalpello

Vail

Bubble battle anew

The town of Vail does not have $190,000 to set up and tear down the bubble for the fourth consecutive season.

In addition, in the fall of 2002, the Design Review Board gave approval for one more season (2002-03). Therefore, if the bubble is to be erected again, approval from the DRB must be sought.

At the spring (2003) Town Council meeting with the Vail Recreation Board, the VRD recommended to the Town Council that the bubble was no longer needed because of the new indoor ice rink in Eagle, and that Dobson could handle the needed ice times. Furthermore, the VRD introduced to the Town Council an interested buyer.

What has happened to those recommendations? They were fiscally sound and community friendly.

In light of the concern for a balanced budget, how can the Town Council explain the funding of the setup and tear-down of the bubble when there are no apparent funds?

Gretchen Busse

Good move

Just a quick note to thank the county commissioners again for the Miller Ranch fields. The addition of those fields has allowed us to accept a record number of teams into our tournament that takes place Oct. 4 and 5. Last year, we had 87 teams. This year, we will have 126.

This will bring over 3,500 people into the valley who will spend an average of $200 each. That will bring over a million dollars in revenue into our economy in two days. Pretty nice for the heart of the off-season!

Cindy Eskwith-

Embarrassing “art’ of column writing

Re: The embarrassing “art” of letter writing: Thank you, Richard, for taking the time to monitor letters to the editor.

Let me return the favor and take a moment to put your writing under the microscope. First, tone; your style is so condescending, I didn’t know it was even possible to write with such a weighty chip on one’s shoulder.

Next, style; jumping to from culturalisms to not-so-profound-observations leaves the reader with a slew of undefended opinions and points.

Lastly, and certainly most pathetic, subject matter; rather then sifting through letters to the editor for fatal flaws, why don’t you pick up a national paper and clue yourself into the issues of the day?

Ed Graef

Minturn

Issue’s really spending

The same three board members who banned me from the golf course for the rest of the season are the same three board members who didn’t like an observation I made about the state of our district several months ago and it has been name-calling and mud-slinging ever since.

I noted that Eagle-Vail is giving away its revenue sources.

This board allows the director of golf to make well over $200,000 a year! Since 2000, the director of golf has made a minimum of $613,236, not including this year.

I noted that never before in Eagle-Vail’s history were there TWO full-time year-round employees for the golf course until 2000. It is unnecessary and has cost the district another $92,696 not counting this year. This position was originally justified by calling it “director of group sales” and would pay for itself by bringing in more revenue. Group sales lost over $40,000 to budget in 2002. In 2003, the title for this position mysteriously changed to “assistant manager.”

While this is happening, since 2000 the district has lost $210,209. And we are on pace to lose another $265,000 this year. That would be the biggest single year loss in Eagle-Vail history. I understand that we are in tough economic times, but Eagle-Vail needs to live within its means, and it’s not.

This board is currently aware that the budget is going to be off by a significant amount, but the three majority board members have chosen to do nothing about it. No cuts, no layoffs. Even after our district administrator advised us at last month’s board meeting that we as a board must take a proactive roll in addressing this situation and that we cannot continue down the path we are presently taking.

I am NOT calling into question how anyone has performed their job. I am talking about positions and compensation, not personalities. I am talking about choices that this district can make to improve our financial situation without being detrimental to the overall operation of the golf course.

The same three board members also didn’t know that the golf course had lost over $200K in 2001. I kid you not! I had to point it out to them. Then they had to ask our district administrator to confirm it before they believed me.

And when you start hearing baloney about how much money I spent golfing on the course in 2002, it’s just that: baloney. There was NO POLICY IN PLACE dictating board member play. Besides the fact that it costs the district virtually nothing to give employees free golf, the tee sheet was not full. Believe me, no one missed out on their chance to golf because of me. No one said a word to me about how much I had played until after the season was over and I had brought up the district losses. I even had a full-time employee of the golf course tell me “we were looking for something to get you on.”

I can’t abuse a policy that isn’t even in place. And I’m not going to apologize for using a benefit that was afforded to me. You wouldn’t believe how many people get free golf at that course – all the employees, an on-call ranger, the guys who run the restaurant and aren’t even district employees, the list goes on. Plus, it’s like giving an employee a season ski pass, then after the ski season is over, telling the employee that he used it too many times.

Finally, don’t be fooled into believing I was the only board member using this benefit. Other members used it just as much as I did and continue to do so.

During our August 2003 meeting, I asked my fellow board members for ideas on how to save money and cut costs, and Mr. Andrew Cuomo curtly told me it was up to staff to make those decisions.

Mr. Cuomo did give one suggestion. To raise the Eagle-Vail homeowner’s property tax. Yep. The “t” word. He said in our meeting that the residents of Eagle-Vail use this course as their back yard and need to pay their fair share. In a later e-mail, he also threw out the options of selling the course or charging for memberships. He said “tax revenues must be used to balance the budget and/or users fees must increase through raising prices or creating new types of passes, members or call it what you want. Otherwise the only alternatives would be to sell the golf course, try to sell memberships, or work on consolidation of the local public golf courses to reduce the number of full time employees and fixed costs through consolidation.”

Sorry, but I think differently. I think we need to exhaust EVERY avenue before the “t” word is even muttered. And, believe me, there are avenues to exhaust. Including taking back our revenue sources! The director of golf is allowed to make so much money because the district pays the overhead for him to run a business.

The district pays for all personnel, electricity, phone lines, computers, advertising, etc., in the golf shop, but the director of golf is allowed to make the profit. He buys and sells the merchandise for profit. The district gets 4 percent of gross sales ($10,000), which is barely enough to cover ONE part-time employee. He also gets to keep golf club rental revenue. He buys the clubs, rents them, then sells them at the end of the year. Club rental income last year was $43,745. Again, this is revenue the district should be making. And, keep in mind, all of this is for both golf courses, the 18-hole and the par 3. Do you think the district should give away these revenue sources?

There have been an influx of new golf courses in the valley and it’s getting more competitive by the day. We have people living on our golf course who get in their car and drive west 30 miles to play golf. There is something seriously wrong with that. We need to do what it takes to get our local players back and that would not include raising property taxes or pass prices.

This district needs to be run like a business. Don’t forget, not only am I a board member, I am also a homeowner and have the same concerns that you do. I don’t want to see Eagle-Vail lose its golf course.

I have been an advocate of reducing our expenditures since day one and that is not going to change. Three members of this board have opposed me at every turn. However, I was elected to represent the best interests of the Eagle-Vail homeowners and residents, and I will continue to do so.

I encourage Eagle-Vail residents to let this board know how you feel.

If you ever have a question, concern or just want to talk about something going on in the district, my door is always open. When I ran for this board, I said I’d always communicate in an open and honest fashion and do my best to represent the people of Eagle-Vail, and I always will! Call me or e-mail me – 845-7799 or studioj@vail.net.

J.Halburnt

Eagle-Vail


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