Letter: Mather, Would the long-term cost of $5.5 million have been worth the short-term savings of $650,000?
March 31, 2016
With the current Town of Fraser election, we are once more debating what types of development agreements the Town of Fraser should sign and what costs Town residents should incur to support growth in Fraser.
With my two years of service on the Fraser Town Board, regretfully ending due to the requirements of a new job, I now have an even stronger belief that Fraser voters made the right decision in voting down the 2013 annexation agreement with Byers Peak Properties (BPP), avoiding significant long-term costs and limits on the Town's ability to manage growth. Thanks to that vote, the Fraser Town Board is now negotiating agreements with Clark Lipscomb and BPP that will benefit the Town of Fraser in both the short and long term.
In contrast, candidates Smith and Quinn continue to believe voters should have supported the annexation agreement, as indicated in their responses to the SkyHi New's question "Describe one time when you believe the current town board got it wrong."
.Mayoral Candidate Smith stated "My biggest regret was our failure annex Byers Peak Ranch into the town of Fraser. As a result, we are spending $650,000 to purchase augmentation storage from Grand County #1."
Trustee Candidate Quinn stated "The town board did not get it wrong, however the wrong result occurred when we, as a town, missed the opportunity to have a voice and help direct the land being developed bordering the town of Fraser." He also said that with that vote, residents were trying "to shove the status quo down peoples' throats" and were "freaking out when someone wants to develop a piece of property."
True, the Town of Fraser would not be spending $650,000 for augmentation water storage, but that is just the short-term impact. With the proposed annexation, the Town of Fraser would have essentially lost millions in water tap fee revenue. The first 711 water tap fees, about $5.5 million at current rates, would have been collected and held in a separate Developer account. Some of that would have reimbursed BPP for augmentation pond construction, including the cost of ponds that would have been used for snow-making at the Colorado Adventure Park tubing hill, one of the developer's private businesses.
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Most of that $5.5 million would have been held in this account through the 35-year development period, "locked away," without the ability for the Town of Fraser to use those revenues for other water infrastructure costs that this development would have incurred. Water rates would likely have increased much more than now expected.
As to development control, in managing development at Rendezvous and Grand Park, the Town Board faces the constant challenge of working within a 1986 annexation agreement, which locks their hands from making decisions that reflect current conditions and values. Similarly, the BPP annexation agreement would have most likely limited Town of Fraser control not increased it.
So if you have yet to vote, please consider whether you want to elect a Mayor and Town Board Trustee who believe that saving $650,000 in the short-term is worth giving up revenue of $5.5 million in the long-run? Or should we have a Mayor and Town Board trustees who respect residents' votes, ask the right questions and demand that the Town Staff find the answers?
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