Fancher: An apology, and some perspective
Recent events in both the local and national arenas have lots of people on edge, myself included. At the Avon Town Council meeting on Oct. 6, I lost my cool and used some inappropriate language in response to the public comments made by one of the people behind the recall effort.
I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and control. I’d like to explain, but this is not meant to be an excuse. I have been particularly sensitive to the recall issue for several reasons, the most important of which is that my family has been impacted.
My 17-year-old daughter felt harassed by a recall petition circulator at the Avon Post Office. After she identified herself as my daughter, the circulator made a hostile comment about me which was deeply upsetting to my daughter. I was also unsettled by a comment made that a petitioner intends to come after a councilmember who is up for reelection. He said he will come after her with a recall effort every three months until she is gone.
It has been difficult to witness a few members of our community, where I have given my heart and my soul over the past eight years, behaving in what I perceive to be a disrespectful and uncivilized manner.
As I serve my final months on the Town Council, I have been reflecting on what an awesome experience it has been. The ability to improve and impact a community is a unique one and one which I treasure.
The past seven-plus years have brought a lot of positive changes to Avon. As a newly elected public servant in 2012, our council almost immediately restored bus service to Buffalo Ridge; aesthetic improvements were made to Avon Road; huge strides were taken to make our town more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly; the addition of the beach to the North Shore of Nottingham Lake added vibrancy to the park area, enjoyed wholeheartedly by residents and visitors alike; completion of the Eagle Valley Trail along Highway 6 between Stonebridge and Avon Road addressed safety concerns; the construction of the stage; and communication improvements included website updates and business outreach meetings. Myriad changes, whether for safety, beauty, or vibrancy, have been done with an eye on supporting our business community, attracting visitors, and improving the quality of life for residents.
The major revenue streams for the town include property taxes, sales taxes, real estate transfer taxes, recreation fees, and lodging taxes. Typically sales tax provides roughly 50% of the town’s revenues collected in a given year but can be greatly affected by a recession or a pandemic. For this reason, the town strives to diversify and broaden its supporting revenue base, the goal being that when one income stream is suffering another still exists.
The town’s financial health is a huge priority for town staff and the Town Council. A fiscal tax study was performed by an outside agency and provided to the Town Council at its June 12, 2018 meeting. This in-depth fiscal study included a sophisticated analysis of the much-maligned RETT and clearly showed how important it is to the well-being of Avon.
At a recent Town Council meeting, the RETT analysis was discussed and all seven councilmembers unanimously agreed to not only retain RETT but to also keep it at 2%. This was especially significant because at least one councilmember elected in the last election (one who is not the target of the recall) ran on a promise to repeal RETT.
The town’s first housing study was adopted in 2018. This study analyzed the mix of existing housing in Avon and allowed for direction toward Avon’s future. The desire to maintain a balance and a focus on affordability was paramount to the discussion. This study led Town Council to policy changes that included increasing the RETT exemption for primary residents and the creation of Mi Casa Avon, a program modeled after the Vail InDeed program and already successfully bringing home ownership to new residents of our town.
The Avon Town Council has been committed to climate change and the environment. One small step has been the plastic bag ban, making a great impact on our local environment. After years of personally being involved in the town cleanup this is the first year that I did not come across one plastic bag. This is a huge milestone. In the past I have not only found plastic bags clinging to bushes but also balled up and bunched up in culverts that wash into the Eagle River or in the ditches and creeks that run through town. Other efforts include a commitment to attaining net-zero by 2030.
There are so many things to be proud of when looking back at Avon over the past eight years, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on all the positives of my public service rather than focus on the few distractions that have occurred as emotions run high in these pre-election weeks.
Avon is the Heart of the Valley and a place where a work-lifestyle balance can be achieved. Soon three seats will be filled as the result of the Nov. 3 election and hopefully, democracy will continue to work in our mountain town, where seven different people and perspectives can work together representing Avon and continue moving it forward in a positive trajectory.
Jennie Fancher is the former mayor of Avon and a two-term councilmember. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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