EDWARDS, CO — By a unanimous vote last Wednesday, the Mountain Rec District board of directors referred the district’s All Access Rec ballot question to the November 2021 election. The ballot question, if approved by the district’s voters, would allow the district to make facility and equipment improvements in Eagle, Edwards and Gypsum, as well as adding more community spaces, additional programs for all ages, and an All Access Pass to allow community members to utilize all three facilities.
“We are committed to providing great services and programs to meet the needs of our growing community, but without making investments in our recreational facilities, we will soon not be able to keep up with our community’s needs,” said Liz Jones, Mountain Rec’s board president prior to the Board’s vote. “All Access Rec will allow the district to make improvements that will turn our locations into vibrant community centers, provide activities, services and recreational spaces for kids, teens, adults and seniors.”
Achieving Facility Plans While Asking Voters for Less
Come November, the ballot question will ask voters to approve a property-tax increase that will support about $60 million in construction, as well as provide operating and maintenance funds moving forward. The mill levy increase is estimated to cost $32 per year per $100,000 in home value, about $217 per year for the average home in the district—a sharp decline in the initial cost estimates of $47 per year for every $100,000 in home value, or $320 per year for the average home in the district.
The previous All Access Rec proposal contemplated $80 million in upgrades to the district’s facilities and recreation offerings. After receiving community feedback through multiple in-person events and two surveys, the district worked to reduce the overall costs while maintaining the core improvements and services that community members asked Mountain Rec to provide. The district’s board and staff went through a comprehensive value engineering process to review each project to respond to community concerns about the overall cost.
In addition, Mountain Rec is actively working with businesses, nonprofits and local governments to raise additional money to help complete the entire All Access Rec program, while reducing the tax impact on local residents. The additional fundraising is being done through the district’s foundation and has secured over $6 million so far, further allowing for a smaller ask to voters.
“These efforts clearly demonstrate our district’s commitment to fiscal accountability. We recognize the high cost of living here in Eagle County, but we also understand the importance of quality of life for our residents,” Jones said.
These steps reinforce the district’s fiscal track record. Mountain Rec’s previous mill levy increase came nearly 20 years ago, and the district’s last bond was paid off 10 years early.
What to Expect on the November 2021 Ballot
The ballot question will ask voters to approve an increase in the district’s property tax mill rate of 4.505 mills to raise about $3.8 million in 2022 and afterward to fund:
- Renovation and expansion of recreation facilities in Edwards, Eagle, and Gypsum to provide new recreation spaces, equipment, and programs and community health and wellbeing services for children, teens, adults, families, and seniors;
- Year-round access through updated and new community spaces, behavioral health programs, local nonprofit services, and social activities; and
- Improvements to trailhead, swimming, and recreational facilities to provide more access for active outdoor recreation, summer camps, and youth and adult recreation programs.
Acting on Community Feedback
“We listened to the community when developing concept plans and that listening did not end with this summer’s roadshow. While sharing information at over 30 events across the valley and connecting with the community, we heard loud and clear that many community members want these improvements, but we also heard that the total cost of improvements felt steep to taxpayers,” said Janet Bartnik, Mountain Rec’s executive director.
“I am pleased with the work done by our team to sharpen the pencil and appreciate the board’s thoughtful discussions about the costs and concerns we heard from our community members. Wednesday’s decision to send this question to our voters is the culmination of three years of dedicated planning, fundraising and community engagement. Now, we can look hopefully toward the future of Mountain Rec as we await the outcome of the vote,” Bartnik concluded.