Rec facilities top Eagle-Vail concerns
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE-VAIL ” Few argue that Eagle-Vail’s recreation facilities are in need of an upgrade. But there’s considerable debate over whether the neighborhood should approve a ballot measure that would raise property taxes to pay for those repairs.
Voters will decide on Referendum 5A, which would keep the district’s mill levy, or property tax rate, the same. Assessed property values increased more than 40 percent from last year. Keeping the rate the same would bring in additional funds so the neighborhood can maintain some old facilities that have fallen into disrepair.
The current rate expires in 2009 as old bonds are paid off, District Accountant Ken Marchetti said.
The money would go toward replacing the swimming pool and tennis courts, completing a recreation trail through the neighborhood and making golf courses repairs.
The repairs are necessary because the facilities, which are about 30 years old, characterize Eagle-Vail, said resident Louise Funk, who is heading up a neighborhood committee supporting 5A.
“I’m supporting it because it is the amenities that make the Eagle-Vail neighborhood. That’s what makes us unique,” she said.
And many residents agree, even those who do not always use the pool or tennis courts. After all, recreation is what the area is all about, said resident Gary Margot.
The property tax money would also keep the district afloat financially ” the metro district has been operating at a deficit for a number of years, Marchetti said.
Historically the district has relied on golf course profits and utility fees on new homes, but those sources of income have dried up over the last decade, board officials said.
“(The situation) is urgent enough that we need to do something now. We’re trying to make plans now to keep reserves from being spent down to zero,” Metro District Board President John Nichols said.
The money would not go toward “big picture” projects or capital projects, he said, but toward maintaining what the neighborhood already has. According to a recent consultant survey, that will cost about $20 million over the next 20 years, Nichols said.
If the tax raise is passed, the district will then have time to figure out new sources of funding for the future, he said.
Typically the property owner’s association funds things like new signs, street sweeping and special projects like Christmas decorations, not everyday district operations, said Eagle-Vail Property Owners Association President Jeff Layman.
“But we support this, and we we’re helping publicize and campaign for this,” he said.
However, opponents of 5A, especially residents who live in the district but not the Eagle-Vail neighborhood, argue that spending plans are not specific, and the tax raise does not have an expiration date.
“This is not limited to a certain dollar amount, and I don’t like that it goes on forever,” resident Kristi Ferraro said. “There are other ways to fund this, like maybe a public-private partnership with a developer.”
Some residents are worried the referendum is simply a very expensive Band-Aid.
“What needs to be done will cost way more money than this tax increase will raise. It just seems like a bit of a half-baked plan,” resident Walter Dandy said.
Others, who are part of the metro district by water rights, but do not live in the neighborhood, don’t want to pay for facilities they don’t use.
“We don’t have any interest in this issue. I don’t go over there,” said Lynda Yaker, a resident who lives north of Highway 6. “I’m not interested in spending a lot of money on this.”
If 5A does not pass, the district can operate for five or six more years and will have to start selling off its property, Marchetti said.
As for the pool, another option is to replaster it for about $100,000, District Operations Manager Kim Ahmad said. But it would be a quick-fix, because the pool is structurally unstable, she said.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.