Voters deciding Avon’s Skier Building fate
• What’s the issue? Voters are being asked to approve the use of certificates of participation to purchase and renovate the Skier Building as a new town hall.
• What’s a certificate of participation? It’s complicated, but it’s a type of financing, from existing revenue sources, that must be approved every year.
• How much is this? The purchase is for $3.2 million, with another $2.5 million to finish the building.
• What happens if voters reject the purchase? It’s unclear, but the town may purchase the building anyway.
• What happens to the old town hall if voters approve the deal? That’s unclear, too, but ideas include a parking structure or conference center.
• How do I vote? You probably received a ballot in the mail. Ballots are due at Avon Town Hall no later than 7 p.m. Jan. 20. If you haven’t mailed your ballot by now, it probably needs to be hand-delivered. To learn more, call 970-748-4000.
AVON — Voters here will decide Tuesday whether or not the town can use a specific kind of financing to buy a new town hall.
That financing, called certificates of participation, allows a town to borrow money and pay it back from existing revenue sources. That financing is a common way towns and counties for 20-plus years have worked around some of the restrictions of the state’s TABOR amendment, which limits state and local governments’ ability to tax and spend.
The genesis of Tuesday’s election was an October decision by the Avon Town Council to use those certificates — which must be re-authorized annually — to purchase and finish the Skier Building, a long-unused commercial building just east of the town’s recreation center. That structure would then be used as a new town hall.
Opponents forced a special election on whether or not to use that financing by gathering enough petition signatures. Opponents believe the deal is a bad one for the town, questioning everything from the price tag to the structural quality of the building.
Supporters say the deal is good for the town, that it will help spark an area of town that’s envisioned for more pedestrian traffic and that the current town hall is old and inadequate to meet the town’s needs for office space.
Special elections are fairly rare in the county, but they tend to draw a good bit of interest.
In January of 2012, Eagle voters were asked to overturn a town board decision to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in town. That election decisively reversed the board’s decision, but not quite one-third of the town’s registered voters participated.
It’s hard to tell how many of Avon’s roughly 2,400 registered voters will cast ballots Tuesday. Avon Town Clerk Debbie Hoppe said Friday she hadn’t yet counted the number of votes that had come in via mail or hand delivery. There has been a steady stream of ballots coming in, she said, but wouldn’t venture a guess beyond agreeing that perhaps several hundred ballots were ready to be counted Tuesday.
In a brief, unscientific sample — a mid-day hour spent at the town’s post office — several town voters said they favored the proposed purchase.
Resident Charlie Sherwood said he’s concerned about the appraisals on the new building and worried that the comparable values in those appraisals seemed to come from the Denver area. Sherwood added that he’s uncomfortable with the idea that there’s no current plan to redevelop the current town hall.
Despite those concerns, Sherwood said he supports the purchase.
“I think they have to move (the town hall), but those (reservations) aren’t good,” Sherwood said.
Resident Clyde Hanks was unambivalent about his support.
“I think the town’s headed in the right direction,” Hanks said. “I think they’ve done their homework. … It’s a very good location, and should anchor the pedestrian mall.”
Resident Dawn Randall said she’s in favor of the plan, too.
“They need to have meeting space,” she said.
Longtime resident Tom Griffin is also in favor of the deal.
“It’s a good idea,” Griffin said. “The facilities now are antiquated. … The town needs to update.”
While there’s been a good bit of vocal opposition in terms of letters and opinion pieces in this newspaper, the main opposition during a quick visit to the town’s post office came from Arrowhead resident Neil Lipsey. While he can’t vote in the election, Lipsey reflected the views of many in-town opponents.
“It just seems that too many people in politics are free with other people’s money,” Lipsey said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.