Vail Daily letter: The voters have spoken
Congratulations, Avon voters. You have spoken loud and clear, saving $12.5 million in future tax obligations.
There is more good news. We have been educated. We have learned how to prepare and submit a successful voter referendum and petition. We identified a most passionate and dedicated group of Avon petition circulators. The list of informed and like-minded voters this team obtained will be invaluable in future citizen actions. We cannot thank these people enough and pledge to continue the war for voter rights (TABOR) and fiscal responsibility. Voter education and recruitment of fiscally responsible council candidates is on our continuing agenda. We have made the necessary investments in time and money and are prepared for the next challenge.
It goes without saying that the Avon Town Council has been driven toward millions in exorbitant spending without direct voter approval. Also, there is no dispute that the Avon Town Council has a horrific record in managing town construction projects like the Nottingham Park Pavilion and their $2 million cost overrun. And to add insult to injury, Avon collects the second highest real estate transfer tax (2 percent) in the Vail Valley to fund its unrestrained spending! This has “devalued” all Avon property compared neighboring communities.
Moving forward from January 2015, the Avon Town Council must:
• Drop the Skier Building from any further consideration by the town. Just say “no”!
• Spend less Avon taxpayer money!
• Stop the use of certificates of participation for long-term financing. COPs are a sham and only serve as a lightning rod for citizen action or revolt. If you want long-term financing, lead and sell the idea, do not hide behind COPs. Voter approval is an absolute requirement for any long-term debt obligation. We are confident that any future use of COPs will result in immediate citizen action.
• Do not rush projects. Obtain citizen input during the decision-making process. Avon citizens have a wealth of expertise available for town use. The pavilion cost overruns and ill-advised Skier Building purchase are a major embarrassment to the Town and council and will not be forgotten by Avon taxpayers and voters.
• Reduce taxes, especially the Real Estate Transfer Tax. Do not discourage property owners who would buy and sell real estate in Avon. Instead, welcome them with incentives such as lower taxes and less regulation. Of course if the town taxes less it would be expected to spend less. Leave the money in taxpayer pockets as they know the best use for it.
• Eliminate secret meetings and the overuse of council’s “executive sessions”! Executive sessions are way overdone in Avon. Backroom deals without public input lead only to bad decisions, cost overruns, the appearance of fiscal recklessness and conflicts of interest. There is much speculation as to the real reason to purchase the Skier Building. What other surprises does the Avon council have in store for the voters?
Rest assured that we will be watching all future town actions. We hope you will accept criticism and suggestions from fellow Avon citizens who care just as much for our town, its health and progress as you do. The “loyal opposition” is a tradition in Western democracies, and we hope Avon’s council will respect and embrace that tradition.
David Strandjord, Tab Bonidy, Peter Buckley, John Minervini and David Scherpf