Rec access to locals critical to community
Name: Jeffery K. Christensen
Occupation: Manager at Vail Village Pazzo’s
In 200 words or less, why did you decide to run for the Vail Recreation District board?
I am running for the VRD board because I want to work with the remaining members to improve our existing facilities and continue the financial course to maintain fees and access for residents of the district. The VRD has the opportunity to make long-needed improvements to many of its facilities.
Passage of the Dobson debt relief question in May and the facility improvements questions in November will help put the VRD in a position to make necessary improvements while maintaining fees and access. Many times these projects get out of hand and the costs seem to escalate until they are finally rejected by the voters.
We have enough expertise in this valley to present the voters with the information they need without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on redundant consulting fees. This is what separates the VRD from the Town Council. The VRD’s independent budget ensures that taxpayer money designated for recreation actually goes to recreation. I want to see that money spent responsibly to maintain the quality and access that our residents and visitors have come to expect.
1) The rec district and Vail Town Council are sometimes at odds over goals and objectives. What should the rec district do to foster better relations with the town? What would you like to see the Town Council do?
Most of the conflict has to do with money and influence. Unfortunately, the VRD is in the weaker position. The VRD cannot impose enormous unwanted expenses on the Town Council budget, which the council has done with the Dobson and ice bubble projects. To foster better relations, the town council could stop charging the VRD rent to maintain taxpayer-owned facilities, and offer real estate transfer tax funds for improvements to the parks and open spaces that the VRD maintains for the taxpayers and visitors in Vail.
2) Should the rec district remain an independent entity, or would it be better off as a town agency, as it was before 1993?
This is an interesting question. Some might argue that the VRD already basically is a town agency. However, the main financial problems the VRD has had over the last five years are due to the town meddling in VRD business. I think that the Dobson remodel and the ice bubble are classic examples of this.
The VRD allows taxpayers to directly fund facilities and programs that they desire and can benefit from directly. So would we be better off if the VRD was a town agency? Definitely not.
3) What are the recreation district’s top three priorities? Why?
1. Manage taxpayer funds responsibly. Why? If the VRD can successfully manage our facilities and programs, then adequate funds are available for maintenance and other necessary expenses. This, in turn, will enable us to achieve our other priorities.
2. Provide and improve quality facilities and programs for Vail taxpayers and visitors. Why? Quality facilities and programs help encourage a sense of community in Vail. They need to be maintained, improved and promoted on a regular basis. Quality facilities and programs help make Vail more attractive to visitors and locals alike.
3. Maintain fees at reasonable and competitive levels for taxpayers and visitors to encourage participation and access. Why? A fee structure that encourages local and visitor participation and access is a must. Fancy facilities that have no access for locals will not work for our community. We can use our position as a municipality to charge competitive rates to attract more business to our facilities and provide reasonable access and fees to the local community.
4) Is the district on the right track financially? What changes would you recommend?
Yes. The current VRD board has eliminated a significant amount of wasteful spending over the last two years. Most of the hard work has already been done. As far as changes go, I would encourage people to vote for the Dobson debt relief question in the spring and the facility improvement question in November. If these questions are passed by the voters, fees should remain at current or lower levels for years to come.
5) How much more should district taxpayers be expected to pay for VRD services?
If you vote for both the Dobson and facility improvement questions, your property tax on a $500,000 home would increase approximately $4 to $5 per month. This would put the VRD in a very sound financial position where fees could be maintained at current or lower levels, as mentioned above.
6) How does the VRD fit in to the valley’s overall recreation scene? What changes would you like to see?
The VRD is in a unique position where we can subsidize our local fees to some degree with tourist dollars. Downvalley districts do not have this luxury. We should maintain our own recreation district for Vail because we should keep our funds here to maintain the facilities that benefit our community and economy.
I think the VRD should work with downvalley districts, or future districts, to create a more inclusive environment for all residents of the Vail Valley. Working together we can provide great recreational experiences for both our residents and guests.
Note: Christensen did not make himself available for a photograph.
– Compiled by Scott Miller