Vail Valley Voices: Avon mayor responds to recent accusations (column)
October 23, 2018
The 2016 presidential campaign season and subsequent election elicited an onslaught of fake news to our society, making it far more burdensome to decipher the difference between truths and falsehoods. However, when falsehoods are presented it is essential to point them out and share the truth. Recent accusations about poor fiscal management and lack of transparency in Avon need to be addressed.
Revenues provide the resources by which Avon carries out its strategic plan. The town strives to diversify and broaden its supporting revenue base. Major revenue streams for the town include property taxes, sales taxes, real estate transfer taxes, recreation fees and lodging taxes. A fiscal tax study was performed by an outside agency, available online in the June 12, 2018, Council Packet, section 7.2. The comprehensive annual financial report goes beyond the minimum financial reporting and audit requirements of state statutes, evidencing the spirit of transparency and full disclosure by providing information needed to assess the town's financial health. Avon has also been awarded a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting for 25 consecutive years.
Legally the town must maintain a balanced budget, and independent auditors examine Avon's financial statements annually. The national credit rating agency Moody's has given Avon an Aa2 rating, noting the town's robust financial position. Quite simply, Avon is not millions of dollars over budget.
Several projects have been initiated in recent years to support the community. Projects have included Avon Road enhancements, a new beach at Nottingham Lake, the installation of Main Street Mall, the new Performance Pavilion, a new playground in Nottingham Park, the new Town Hall, the West Avon Preserve trails, construction of the climbing lane up Metcalf Road, the Public Safety Facility and work on Beaver Creek Boulevard. These projects are meant to beautify, create vibrancy and attract people, making Avon a town that people want to come and enjoy. The majority of these projects have resulted in creating a sense of place.
Letters to the editor and candidate rhetoric have accused Avon of wild spending, being millions of dollars over budget and in need of a "project diet." The estimated cost of a project changes when it goes out to bid and actual costs become available. The accepted bid becomes the final project budget. Beaver Creek Boulevard is one project where the bid exceeded staff's initial projections. The accepted bid was with a reputable company with a solid reputation. Shortly after the project started the company was purchased, the project manager quit and the project was woefully understaffed. While this has added greatly to the inconvenience of a road construction project, it has not added expense.
A number of projects have come in on time and on or under budget, including the Public Safety Facility, Avon Road improvements, Main Street Mall, Metcalf climbing lane and the East Avon Preserve trails. The Nottingham Pavilion was a design-build project that immediately faced the obstacle of poor soils when excavating began. Additionally, the estimated project cost provided by the architect was grossly understated compared to actual construction costs. It feels necessary to point out that the new Dillon Amphitheater cost $10 million.
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Avon's administrative offices moved into the new Town Hall this week. The purchase and build-out was demonstrated to be a more cost-effective solution than having to remodel the older facility. The analysis of the old Town Hall and the new Town Hall can be found on the Avon website. The analysis demonstrates the great expense required to get old Town Hall in working order. The decision to relocate Town Hall was discussed repeatedly in open session, analyzed by architecture and construction firms and available on the website as well as on Channel 5. Renovating 100 Mikaela Way was a more cost-effective option.
All decisions, whether perceived as good or bad, are done in public. Council meetings occur the second and fourth Tuesday of every month and they are televised on High Five Access Media, Channel 5. Press releases are sent out constantly and the website is up-to-date. Staff is always available to answer questions as is the Town Council.
Town Council has worked hard to enhance the sense of community, support local business and make improvements to attract visitors, accomplished without increasing property taxes. Information and facts are easily accessible on the town's website, avon.org.
Jennie Fancher is the mayor of Avon.