Vail Daily column: Why waste taxpayer money on purchase? | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Why waste taxpayer money on purchase?

Laurie Adler
Valley Voices

It doesn’t matter how the Skier Building is financed — it is not a smart investment for Avon taxpayers. The town of Avon is using taxpayer money — without citizens’ approval — to buy a new costly Town Hall that is unnecessary and a waste of our money. There are too many unanswered questions and not enough transparent answers to justify this.

• Why did the town sign a purchase agreement for the Skier Building for $3.2 million with no parking when the town’s own appraiser valued it at $2 million with no parking?

Using a seller’s appraisal and replacement cost as justification by a buyer is meaningless and purely Starwood’s negotiating tactic.

Purchasing commercial real estate is based on what you would get for it if you had to resell it the next day. In this case — with no parking — the Skier Building is worth far less than $3.2 million to the next buyer.

• Why did the town’s appraiser state the cost of making the Skier Building ready for occupancy was $1.2 million instead of $2.5 million the town says? If the appraiser knew, the differential of $1.3 million would have been deducted from the value, making the true value of the Skier Building with no parking less than $1 million — according to experts — not $3.2 million the town is paying.

• Why does the town say it will cost $2.5 million to renovate the Skier Building if they have no firm renovation contract? Will this be another cost overrun like the pavilion?

• Why is the town planning to buy the Skier Building with a roof that their own inspection states is at the end of its useful life? The roof needs to be replaced. The $200,000 cost for the roof repair was a figure the town had in their own document as the cost but also said they didn’t expect to get a roof repair credit.

• Why didn’t the town ask for a $200,000 credit in their purchase agreement for the cost of a new roof?

• Why would the town buy the Skier Building with no parking, which is what their own zoning requires? If the town tries to sell the Skier Building, it will be unsellable with a lack of required parking. Instead, the town wants to use its currently owned, much-needed town parking beside the Skier Building — but not allow employees to use it.

• Why was a home inspection company that does 85-90 percent of their business performing home inspections used to inspect the Skier Building instead of a licensed commercial building inspection company that specializes in commercial building inspections?

• Why was only a two-page structural analysis done on a 16,000-square-foot building? Due diligence was not properly done to see if the Skier Building has sufficient water capabilities, sufficient electrical system capacity, a usable elevator and proper floor load capacity on its upper floors for the intended use.

• Why was the Town Hall “needs assessment” done by town staff, as opposed to an independent third party? Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

• Why does the town think there is a need for more Town Hall space when the town manager has reduced staff by 30-plus positions, plans to digitize all stored documents and the Police Department is moving out of Town Hall?

• Why didn’t the Town Council and town manager know that current Town Hall repairs do not need to be brought up to code — when their own chief building official knew this? These are the same rules that govern every building in Avon. Repairs on the current Town Hall can be made incrementally and cost, according to experts, no more than $2.5 million.

• Why didn’t the town take into consideration, prior to purchasing the Skier Building, that the current Town Hall is subject to a deed restriction which does not allow the town to sell the building for development?

• Why can the town purchase government buildings without citizen approval but can’t sell government buildings without citizen approval?

• Why can’t the town tell us the net cost of upgrading a new Town Hall if they don’t know specifically the cost and use of the current Town Hall?

• Why is the reason for relocating Town Hall based on an old Town Comprehensive Plan that was adopted eight years ago in 2007 at the end of the real estate development boom, before the recession and before it was known what to do with the police and fire departments? The plan was developed before the Hoffmanns changed the town dynamics by buying up and renovating a great deal of Avon. Also, there has been a big impact on and change in the town due to The Westin, Walgreens, the Wyndham and now the pavilion.

• Why is buying a new Town Hall more important than public safety requirements of Avon’s police and fire departments which are in desperate need of upgrading?

With so many unanswered questions, lack of properly done due diligence and higher priorities, it appears that we have the same poor oversight by the town as the pavilion, which resulted in an overrun of $2 million, double the original cost.

Until you have all of the answers to these questions, I urge the new Town Council to:

• Slow down and not waste our taxpayer money on buying the Skier Building at its ridiculous price with no parking and without doing proper due diligence on its purchase.

• Redo the Town of Avon Comprehensive Plan based on today’s realities and current needs.

• Renovate the current Town Hall, build a new Town Hall in its place or lease proper space using current factual information provided by outside experts as opposed to incorrect and biased information.

I also urge the tax-paying citizens of Avon to make our Town Council and staff fiscally and managerially responsible for how they spend our dollars. Tell them to slow down and just say “no” to the purchase of the Skier Building regardless of the financing by emailing them at avoncouncil@avon.org and voting “no” on the referendum.

We have another pending disaster and construction cost overrun like the pavilion on our hands.

The citizens of Avon and the new Town Council have the power to stop this train wreck and save taxpayer money for other high priority items and more prudent use of taxpayer funds. I sincerely hope they do.

Laurie Adler is a resident of Avon.