Avon town

Avon City Council members defend real estate transfer tax amid recall efforts

A sales sign sits in front of a house in Avon. In a recent attempt to offer relief from the cost of buying a home, members of Avon City Council decided to offer the tax exemption to people earning 75% of their income while working in the county. from Eagle.
Nate Peterson | [email protected]

When Mayor Mark Romanowski of Johnstown, Colorado faced one of the most memorable recall efforts in the past decade, he had at least taken one action to stimulate recall.

Romanowski had moved from diagonal parking spaces to parallel parking spaces in town.

However, Avon City Council members Amy Phillips, Tamra Underwood and Mayoress Sarah Smith Hymes are now defending themselves against a recall effort that was instead initiated by a no-action – leaving in place a tax on real estate transfers which has been an established source of income. for the city for decades.

The recall committee, which communicated anonymously with the Vail Daily, hopes to secure the nearly 500 signatures needed to force the city to hold a recall election.

Committee members have been asking for signatures in recent days in hopes of a recall election on November 3, 2020; they have until October 12 to get 479 signatures from Avon voters. Bed and breakfast company Mein Haus, located on Beaver Creek Blvd, served as the unofficial campaign headquarters.

The recall committee, in a press release sent to Vail Daily on August 14, said part of the reason for the recall request includes city council’s reluctance to repeal a real estate transfer tax that is in place. in Avon for decades.

“This places sellers of Avon properties at a huge disadvantage compared to our neighboring communities,” the statement said.

Phillips, who is a real estate agent in town and one of the targets of the recall effort, said sellers of Avon properties are in no way at a disadvantage.

“The people who sell homes in Avon are competing with Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch,” Phillips said.

Bachelor Gulch has a real estate transfer tax of 2% and that of Beaver Creek is 2.375%.

Campaign number 2018

Phillips said she has always supported the city’s real estate transfer tax. Hymes and Underwood say they too have always supported the city’s 2% real estate transfer tax. The tax collects $ 2.5 million a year, largely from buyers of luxury goods, as workers enjoy exemptions, and pays for the city’s police station and transit center.

The elimination of the transfer tax was raised during the 2018 city council campaign, where city councilor Chico Thuon campaigned for its removal, along with Avon resident Tom Ruemmler, who did not was not elected.

During the campaign, Thuon – who is himself a real estate agent – described the tax as tantamount to “having an additional real estate agent sitting at the table” for the fees she charged to buyers.

After a few months on the board, however, Thuon had changed his stance by suggesting that the board should better deal with “exactly what we did with (the funds) and” explain to people what it’s for. “

In November, Thuon, no longer expressing a desire to see land transfer tax revenues drastically changed, voted in favor of a more modest adjustment – an increase in the amount residents were allowed to exempt from the tax. The measure was adopted unanimously by the council.

The other reason given for requesting a recall includes the now defunct effort to use public funds to move the Hahnewald barn, the recall committee said in a statement.

“It is clear that these council members put (sic) their own opinion in front of the majority of those in the community,” the statement said.

Underwood told Avon that it would be difficult to find an issue as completely dead and buried as the Hahnewald Barn.

“This is the definition of a moot point,” she said.

Council members unanimously voted to halt financial efforts to save 110-year-old Hahnewald on April 9, 2019, following a city investigation that revealed overwhelming opposition to the idea, which had already been approved by the board.

Alleged sexism

The four board members who approved the initial effort to save the barn were the primary targets of the recall, but with board member Jennie Fancher reaching the end of her term in November, she is no longer eligible for the recall.

Fancher sent a letter to Avon City Council on Tuesday; in the letter – which was read by the mayor because Fancher was unable to attend – Fancher said the recall effort is nothing more than sexism.

“Community members are trying to recall female board members, for RETT, not male counterparts who voted the same,” Fancher said, referring to the November RETT exemption increase, which was adopted unanimously by the council.

Defending the recall committee before Avon City Council on Tuesday, Ruemmler said the recall effort was not based on gender.

Ruemmler referred to the fact that the 4-3 vote that initially approved the barn’s decision was approved by all four female council members, with all three male council members voting against. Ruemmler also said the poll that overturned the decision after showing Avon voters did not support the idea with a 9-1 measure was the result of community pressure.

“Trying to turn this case into a sexist deal is ludicrous – two people on the committee are women,” Ruemmler said.

Ruemmler, who has publicly argued with council and his neighbors over an effort to put in place an unapproved solar project on his Wildridge property in 2018, has sought signatures for the recall in recent days with local resident Michael Cacioppo, Phillips said.

According to documents submitted and certified by the City of Avon Clerk, the recall committee includes Avon residents Paul PJ Jenick, Maria Barry, Adrienne Perer, Tamera LaVina Sturgill and Dr. Todd Jon Roehr.

“The committee members are not the same people we’ve seen circulating petitions,” Phillips said.

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