Vail Vally Voices: Town of Eagle’s $18 million question
Vail, CO, Colorado
The town of Eagle Board of Trustees is ready to spend $18 million of your tax money. Or are they?
When I saw the topic of a water rate study for their recent work session, I did not realize a decision of such magnitude was on the table. It was apparent there are a lot of variables (most unpredictable) that go into the financial impacts of such a decision.
The staff presented three growth scenarios derived after months of work ranging from high growth, high build out to low growth, low build out.
Using the wonder that is Excel, Assistant Engineer Kevin Sharkey plugged in different outcomes, different loan amounts, and in essence, different risks to the taxpayers of Eagle.
The staff based their assumptions on the developers’ numbers because they trust their projections and the town manager believes a developer wouldn’t develop an unsuccessful project. But I question whether the developer’s definition of success equates to success for the town.
Trustee Turnipseed and Trustee Kostick questioned whether the taxpayers should face any risk in the year 2013 if Haymeadow and Eagle River Station 2.0 are not built, and is the lower basin water treatment plant needed at all? The mayor asked if the plant was possible if only one of the two projects were approved by the citizens, as this was not a scenario discussed.
Trustee Kostick also wanted to understand the water usage itself and how much those nice big lawns are costing us in our most precious resource. The staff and others did not seem to believe that people using water wisely would impact the decision at all because it was not a material amount. I didn’t understand this because the 2004 study quoted was done before a majority of the big lawns in Eagle were complete.
And Trustee Turnipseed didn’t understand the staff’s projections, as he thought their assumptions were incorrect. Both he and Trustee Kostick thought a delayed approach might be a better way to go because there were a lot of ifs that needed to happen in order to make the staff’s projections accurate. Two of these big ifs are the Haymeadow Project and Eagle River Station 2.0.
I am not sure that 1,000 residential units as estimated between the two projects in the conservative scenario would be accepted by the citizens, regardless of who was paying for the plant.
After 3 hours and 15 minutes, the four citizens, eight staff members, and five trustees left full of information they are not quite sure what to do with yet.
And I left thinking the vote on Eagle River Station in 2010 did not seem to end the hopes of some staff (and maybe board members?) who believe that a mall will solve all of Eagle’s financial challenges.
The next scheduled trustee meeting is Tuesday, April 12, at 6 p.m.
Brandi Resa is an Eagle resident.