Voters asked to support fire, ambulance districts
By the numbers
4: Special districts asking for tax hikes today.
8: Candidates seeking three seats on the five-member Eagle Vail Metropolitan District Board of Directors.
5: Candidates seeking two seats on the five-member Vail Recreation District Board of Directors.
2: Districts have canceled their spring board elections — the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District.
EAGLE COUNTY — Special district elections often pass without much notice. But this year, in this valley, is different.
Several of the valley’s biggest special districts are holding elections today. Four of those districts are asking voters to tax themselves. Here’s a look at what districts are voting and how to cast ballots — it’s too late to mail a ballot, of course, but most still have drop-off options.
Let’s start with the revenue questions:
Gypsum Fire Protection District
District officials say they’ve been hit hard by a drop in assessed value over the past several years — district revenues dropped more than 50 percent starting in roughly 2010 and 2011, with only a modest return as property values have increased.
District officials say they’re operating with old equipment, and often need to search internet auctions for parts for the newest truck, which was made by a manufacturer no longer in business.
The property tax hike in the valley’s most geographically large district equates to about $84 per year on a home with an assessed value of $300,000.
This is a mail ballot election, but ballots can be dropped off at either the fire station in Gypsum or at the Edwards office of Marchetti & Weaver, 28 Second St., Unit 213.
Eagle County Health Service District
This is the ambulance district for the entire valley — that means just about all of us can vote. Supporters of a property tax increase say the district now faces annual budget deficits of about $1.8 million, due to new reimbursement rates in the federal Affordable Care Act.
The proposed increase is about $30 per year on $500,000 in assessed value.
The district also has two spots up for election on the five-member board of directors. Incumbents Jeff Kingston and Todd Goulding are running, as is Gypsum resident Pam Schultz.
This is a mail ballot election, but ballots can be dropped off today at Marchetti & Weaver.
Eagle River Fire Protection District
This is another big district, with boundaries from the top of Tennessee Pass down U.S. Highway 24, then through the valley between Dowd Junction and Wolcott. It doesn’t include Vail.
This district is asking for a property tax increase to fund three major projects:
• A new public safety facility in Avon that would be shared with the Avon Police Department. That project could break ground this year.
• The fire station in Edwards was built as a “temporary” structure 30 years ago. It needs to be replaced. Work could begin in 2017.
• The district would also like to build a training facility in Minturn. That project doesn’t have a firm start date.
The new headquarters is touted as a necessary improvement for both police and fire. Those separate departments are now working out of facilities built in the late 1970s. The new building, near the main Avon Interstate 70 interchange, would speed response times to much of town, supporters say.
The total request is for $25 million in construction work.
This increase would add about $47 per year to the tax bill on a home with an assessed value of $500,000.
Ballots can still be dropped off at Marchetti & Weaver.
Town of Avon
The town isn’t required to do this, but is asking voters for approval to help fund the new public safety building. The question asks voters for permission to issue certificates of participation to fund $6.5 million of the new building’s cost. Those certificates would be paid from current town revenue sources.
Drop your ballots at town hall.
Edwards Metropolitan District
This district, which covers the middle of the Edwards area and the vast majority of its commercial space, is asking voters for a 1 percent sale tax increase. That tax would generate money for matching funds for several projects along U.S. Highway 6 and the Edwards Spur Road. Those roads are both maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which requires local matching funds for any improvements.
If approved, the 1 percent levy would last until 2040, at which point the tax would drop to 0.5 percent. Beyond funding various intersection projects, the sales tax is also being eyed for trails and other projects.
The district is also holding a board election, with four people seeking three seats. Incumbents William Simmons and Kara Heide are incumbents seeking re-election. John McCaulley and Kelly Malin are also seeking seats on the board.
Drop your ballots at Marchetti & Weaver.
Several of the valley’s districts are also holding elections for their respective boards of directors. Here’s a look at who’s running and how many seats are available:
Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District
This election has generated the most letters to the editor in this newspaper. Voters will choose three members of the five-member board.
Darlynne Littman, Patti Sills, David Warner and appointed incumbent Chuck Toms are running for two available four-year seats.
Carl Luppens, Moses Gonzales, Ruth Borne and Kim Bell Williams are seeking the two-year seat.
Ballots can be dropped off at Marchetti & Weaver.
Vail Recreation District
This election will ask voters to select two members to serve four-year terms on the five-member board. Incumbent Bill Suarez is running for re-election. Roland Kjesbo, Stephen Connolly, Brian Rodine and Rodney Johnson are also seeking seats.
Current board member Jeff Wiles is leaving.
This is a polling-place election, with voting in the Grand View Room, atop the Lionshead parking structure.
Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District
This is a board election for the district, and there are several candidates for three four-year terms and one two-year term.
John McCaulley was appointed to a seat in 2015 and is seeking election for the first time. Robert Ladd is running for a second term. The remaining candidates are Chris Williams, Mikayla Curtis, Christopher Pryor, Elizabeth Jones and Michael Woodworth. Candidates for the two year term are Brian Paul Collett and Michael McCormack.
This is a polling-place election. Voters can cast ballots at the Eagle County Health Services Building in Edwards, the Eagle Pool & Ice Rink in Eagle and Gypsum Recreation Center. Ballots can also be dropped off at Marchetti & Weaver.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.
For downvalley humans, it’s pretty cool when elk decide to hunker down around Eagle for the winter. For the elk, it’s more of a lesser-of-two-evils situation.