Vail Daily column: Building purchase makes sense for Avon
Please join me in marking your mail-in ballot “yes” for approving certificate of participation financing for The Skier Building. Benefiting from current low interest rates, using debt makes sense to pay for the building. The town of Avon has effectively used certificate of participation debt over the last 10 years for facility construction. Avon has very low outstanding debt, and we just paid off an existing long-term certificate of participation debt issue, so we are able to redirect existing revenue to service new debt for The Skier Building. What any taxpayer must like is that certificate of participation debt cannot and will not require the increase in property, sales or real estate transfer taxes. Annual debt service is paid from current taxes.
This is the only question on the mail-in ballot — shall the town be able to finance the building? It is not a question as to whether the town should buy the building or pay cash for it. With that understanding, let me address four questions I am being asked:
• Does the town need to replace the current town hall? The current town hall is in poor shape. Costly renovations are needed now. When you consider a full renovation, it would be wiser to demolish the building and rebuild rather than ending up with a continuing deficient building. That cost would be equal to or greater than buying The Skier Building. Plus, the town’s adopted planning documents call for town hall to be moved so that the current site can be put to a more beneficial use. Buying The Skier Building for municipal uses is the most cost efficient decision.
• Is The Skier Building structurally sound? The answer is yes. The building was fully engineered at the time of construction and has been well maintained. The town had an inspection completed by the qualified inspection firm Eagle Eye Home Inspection (15 percent of their business is commercial building inspection), and a second opinion on the structural integrity by Monroe & Newell, one of the most reputable structural engineering firms in the valley. Both firms found it to be structurally sound. As a long time commercial and residential builder in Avon, I, too, find the building to be structurally sound.
• Is the price right for The Skier Building? The direct answer is yes, it is a good deal. The negotiated price is less than the replacement value and between the independent appraisal values presented in the Points of Colorado (Starwood) and town of Avon’s independent appraisals. The Points of Colorado’s appraisal valued the building at $4,120,000 and the town’s appraisal said the value is $2,042,000. Our negotiated acquisition price is $3,200,000.
• How will the town ensure the needed finishes will be contained as budgeted? I take pride in the many projects the town has funded and built on time and on budget. The $10 million transit facility built last year is an example. Learning from the unknown costs of the pavilion, council has already put together a process to make the selection of architect and builder an open and transparent process and we will hire a cost estimator. I believe the project will proceed as funded and am personally committed to being involved.
The town is buying The Skier Building as a key asset in our long-term civic facility development plan. The Skier Building will serve as an anchor on the Main Street Mall bringing public restrooms, community meeting spaces and the opportunity for a visitor center. Town offices will be on the top two floors. It is a sound building, we can afford it and using certificates of participation is fiscally responsible.
Please vote “yes” and keep Avon moving forward.
Buz Reynolds is a member of the Avon Town Council.