Vail Daily letter: Fisher the best choice for commissioner |

Vail Daily letter: Fisher the best choice for commissioner

Tsu Wolin-Brown
Vail, CO, Colorado

I write as a board member of Riverview Apartments, Eagle County’s only Section 8 housing development, on U.S. Highway 6 just west of the Walmart roundabout. As you may have noticed if you’ve driven by Highway 6 near Avon and Eagle Vail, Riverview is undergoing a substantial renovation. Its exterior, parking and landscaping are being completely replaced. Its systems are being updated, and its interiors are being improved.

These renovations will provide a beautiful and functional property serving our families most in need for decades to come.

The renovation project is employing almost 200 construction workers, almost all of whom are locals.

The general contactor is R.A. Nelson, one of the county’s leading local contractors.

Amazingly, the county structured this $6 million hard-cost reconstruction without using a dime of local money. All of the funding for this renovation came from federal tax credits, federal and state grants and a low-interest HUD-insured loan whose annual payments are materially lower than existing bonds. Verizon, the project’s tax-credit investor, even paid county staff for its two-year effort, contributing to the financial self-sufficiency of the county Housing and Development Department.

This remarkable result would not have been possible without the leadership and support of the Eagle County commissioners.

One of these commissioners, Sara Fisher, is up for re-election this fall. Over the past four years, Sara has done a remarkable job, balancing the needs of all residents of the Eagle County community in a fiscally responsible and thoughtful manner.

Sara has lived in Eagle County for over 20 years and understands Eagle County and its most pressing concerns. She knows how to manage government in an efficient and effective fashion, and she has the political courage to make the hard decisions needed in these tough economic times, such as proactively mandating millions of dollars in cuts from the county’s 2011 budget to reflect projected decreases in county revenue from sales and property taxes for 2012.

Sara Fisher is running against Claudia Alexander, the former property manager at Riverview and Golden Eagle Senior Apartments.

In a recent letter to the editor in this paper, Ms. Alexander argued that the county should function more like a business. In the same letter, however, she posited that the county should not have taken a developer fee for the Riverview redevelopment.

Ms. Alexander said that this $500,000 fee (taken over two years) should have been spent updating Riverview’s heating system. She failed to explain how that fee could have paid for a $2 million heating upgrade, which would have required gas lines to be run to the site and installed in each unit and would have cost far more to upgrade than it would have saved in energy costs.

Furthermore, she did not explain how the county should have paid for the county staff time spent coordinating the Riverview redevelopment if not from the Riverview developer fee. (Had the county hired a private affordable-housing developer, the developer would have been entitled to a $1.5 million fee under federal tax credit program, which would have come out of the Riverview construction budget and deprived the county of $500,000 in developer-fee revenue.)

If the county is to be run more like a business, it is critical that staff be paid for work they perform from sources other than Eagle County taxpayer dollars, when possible.

I encourage you to drive by Riverview if you have not recently done so. The project will be substantially complete next spring, and R.A. Nelson is making rapid progress.

I also encourage you to vote for Sara Fisher for county commissioner this November. She has the experience, the connection to our community and the common sense to lead the county for all of our benefit.

Tsu Wolin-Brown

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