Eagle River Water and Sanitation District - Candidates responses to VHA questions. 

ERWSD Candidates:  Please respond to the following questions.  Your responses "in your own words" will be posted to the VHA Website and distributed by email to our constituents.   A link to a webpage containing  the responses of all candidates has been created.   A "Word" document is attached for your convenience.  Please email your response to vha@vail.net

Thank you for your participation.

1.  What are the pro's and con's associated with the proposed tax increase and de-brucing waiver? 

2.  What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the ERWSD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations?

3.  Why not or why  should the ERWSD assume the responsibility to oversee and administer the operation of stormwater collection and treatment system.  If not, who should?

4.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the ERWSD Board of Directors?


Candidate Responses Below:

Responses received:  Matt Scheer, Paul Testwuide, Tom Allender


04/22/14 - 11:32 pm

Matt Scheer

1. Obviously the greatest benefit of the tax increase is the lower cost passed on to the district's constituency as a whole. Cons may come at the individual level, as some users may pay more with this bonding solution, depending on their usage and property value. But either way, the difference in cost between the two bonding options is nominal on the individual level. I don't personally see any downside to the de-brucing waiver, as I don't believe Tabor was ever intended to prevent enterprise funds from receiving grant or similar funds. The de-brucing allows receipt of grants for projects without the district losing its enterprise status.

2. I currently have no recommendations to change anything regarding the organization and operation of the district.

3. Though the district is impacted by and has particular interest in storm water systems, it has demonstrated great skill in partnering with municipalities to achieve joint watershed goals. Future environmental regulations, the benefits of operating storm water under an enterprise charter, or the economics of consolidation may create greater value in the district taking on that additional and significant responsibility.

4. I became fascinated with water resources and systems when I moved to the valley in 2000 and encountered the Eagle River Watershed Council. I learned about the devastating contamination of the Eagle River from the Gilman Mine, the choking of the Gore Creek from traction sand and accelerated sedimentation, the complex exchange of water resources against natural geological forces, and the head-spinning legal structures enabling life here as we know it. I later got a further crash course in water law, policy, and use as a Minturn town councilman in the context of the Battle Mountain Development. And my six years as executive director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability helped me understand the environmental considerations under which the district must operate, either by conscience or by regulation (as the current ballot measures A & B illustrate). And I suppose that being fascinated by water issues puts me and my fellow candidates in a rare and lonely class of geeks.
Thanks for this opportunity.
Matt Scherr

NOTE: I am not readily available on e-mail. If it's urgent, text or call.


4/23/14   8:31 PM


1. Tax  Vs   Bonds

Due to the new state clean water Regulations the water treatment facilities of the ERWSD will have to be upgraded at considerable cost to the water and sewer user in the district.  One way or another, the users will have to pay for the upgrades.  We have to choose to pay for these up-grades through taxes (mill levy) or user fees in the form of tap fees, water use fees and sewer fees.  By paying with taxes it is said to be 1.8 M cheaper in the long run. You can deduct the taxes but not the fees.
The Tabor Amendment, while being a very effective law in keeping governmental agencies accountable, does not work for this application.  The rules of Tabor will preclude the Water District from governmental funds that are set up for the very purpose of helping to finance projects such as the upgrades that are needed.  Those funds are funded with tax dollars.  Seems a bit ludicrous but it fits that a bill can't be all things to all people. Voting yes will make those funds available at anytime in the future.  It also allows the District to use its funds as other needs arise.  However, voting yes does not allow the district to raise taxes for any other reason without going back to the voters again.

Having served on the Water District Board I am proud to say they run a very efficient operation.  Questions about efficiency, budgets, operations and overall direction are discussed in very candid terms.  My experience of the past opens insights into the future.

The responsibility of pollution remediation belongs to the polluter! I-70 is the biggest problem with the pollution of Gore Creek and the Town of Vail is the second largest contributer.  There have been many groups that have tried to bring the problems into focus and many dollars have been spent both locally and by the state in an effort to keep Gore Creek cleaner.  Much still needs to be done.

I have many years of experience in dealing with water issues.   
I have been on the board of directors for the ERWSD for 3 terms: Managed Vail Associates water rights acquisitions and development for many years.  I personally own water rights in both Colorado and Nebraska and continually deal with all rules and regulations.  I have worked with water districts in both Nevada and California and have done water rights and acquisitions work in both states.  I served on the Eagle Park Reservoir Board, The Clinton Reservoir board and the Colorado Water Congress.  I worked with Denver, Colorado Springs, and Aurora in firming up agreements to preserve West Slope water.  I have managed large parts of Vail and Beaver Creek mountain operations for many years and lived in Vail for 52 years.


4/24/14  11:11 AM

Tom Allender

1.  What are the pro's and con's associated with the proposed tax increase and de-brucing waiver. 

The tax increase and de-brucing waiver saves money.  The first thing everyone needs to understand is that the projects related to the proposed tax increase have to move forward regardless of the outcome of the election.  If the tax increase is approved a general obligation bond will be utilized to fund the project, if the tax increase is not approve  the project will be funded by a revenue bond paid for by a rate increase.  Interest rates on general obligation bonds are lower and will save close to $2 million dollars over the life of the bonds.  Additionally state and local taxes can be deducted from a costumer's annual federal income taxes, a rate increase cannot be deducted.  The tax increase will also be mitigated because a tax that is funding an existing bond will be completely paid off in 2016 and will expire.  Simply put, the proposed tax increase is the cheaper option.

The Tabor revenue and spending limits waiver would allow the ERWSD to apply for and receive state and federal grants for infrastructure upgrades without pushing the District over the Tabor imposed revenue and spending limits.  Without the waivers the District would have to refund  grants that are above their revenue and spending limits which would eliminate any savings afforded by a grant.  Any future tax increases would continue to require voter approval per Tabor.  Keep in mind that the required upgrades to the District's plants will  improve water quality in the watershed.

2.  What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the ERWSD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations?

Having spent the last eight years on the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority Board, which is managed by the ERWSD staff, I continue to be impressed with the District's efforts toward continued improvement at all levels, but specifically being financially responsible.  At this time I would not propose any substantial changes in the organization or operation.

3.  Why not or why  should the ERWSD assume the responsibility to oversee and administer the operation of storm water collection and treatment system.  If not, who should?

Negative regulatory impacts from inadequate management of stormwater fall disproportionately on the ERWSD, it increase water treatment costs and regulatory requirements for waste water treatment.  Be aware that what is being discussed is what is referred to as Stormwater  Best Management Practices, which are efforts such as sedimentation ponds, sedimentation fence and keeping clean run off clean, not a large treatment facility.

4.  How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the ERWSD Board of Directors?

 I have lived in the Valley since 1974 and in Eagle-Vail for the last 15 years.  I have the kind of experience and motivation that would benefit the customers of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District (ERWSD).

My own experience include eight years representing Eagle-Vail on the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority Board (UERWA), eight years representing Vail Resorts on the Eagle Park Reservoir Company Board, participation on the Eagle County Urban Runoff Executive Committee, serving on the Camp Hale Restoration Steering Committee and involvement in the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.

My motivations for running for Eagle River Water and Sanitation Board are straightforward. I have a passion for the issues and for representing the entire upper Valley. My goals as a board member are to help maintain the health of our Watershed, to continue to use and build on the experience I have gained in the water supply arena, to help ensure that the upper Eagle Valley has a reliable, high quality water supply, to help ensure that the ERWSD is financially responsible in meeting ever evolving regulatory requirements, to help ensure that the ERWSD’s customer water and sewer needs are met at a reasonable cost, to help maintain the financial health of the ERWSD, and to help build on opportunities to expand our water supply.


Rick Sackbauer:  4/29/14  6:56 AM

1.     What are the pro's and con's associated with the proposed tax increase and de-brucing waiver. 

The pros are that the total cost of General Obligation bonding is $1.8M less than Revenue bonds over 30 years and that the cost to the District’s customers is deductible on Federal taxes.

The con is the cost of the election.

2.     What changes might you make to the organization and operation of the ERWSD to insure that it functions within its revenue limitations?

The District acts in a financially responsible manner. It has a thoughtful, thorough plan developed to fund the needed improvements. The TABOR question needs to pass.

3.     Why not or why  should the ERWSD assume the responsibility to oversee and administer the operation of storm water collection and treatment system.  If not, who should?

Community problem will require a community solution.  Since there are no applicable regulations, there is no clear delineation of responsibility.  Partnership is the key.  ALL parties, including TOV, CDOT, ERWSD and the County are currently highly motivated and active in addressing the problem. As a board member I will continue to support the energy, look for funding mechanisms, continue to keep the community informed, educated and aware of the urgency. 

4.     How and why are you qualified to serve as a member of the ERWSD Board of Directors?

My experience includes statewide, regional and local participation on water issues. That includes involvement with entities like the Vail Valley Consolidated Water District, the Eagle River Sanitation District, the Eagle Park Reservoir Board, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments Water Quality and Quantity, participation on the Citizen Advisory Committee to the Denver Water Board, involvement in the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, the Colorado Basin Round Table and statewide experience working with the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

Under my leadership on the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Board, we have accomplished some great things, including: the Black Lakes Expansions and Agreement on Summer Water with the CWCB, the Gore Creek Water Quality Improvement Plan, instigation of the Vail Golf Course irrigation system, the treated water component of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Golden Peak snowmaking system, the interconnection of Water Systems from East Vail to Edwards, and the snowmaking pumpback with Vail Resorts for municipal use.

I also have experience on the wastewater side of the equation. I am particularly proud of my work on the Wastewater Master Plan for the plants in Vail, Avon and Edwards and also the planning of the Wolcott Wastewater Facility.


Sounia Nejad Chaney:  4/30/14   9: 20 AM

Residence: West Vail
• Occupation: IT consultant/business owner, and also work with the Vail, Beaver Creek, and Edwards Interfaith Chapels, and ski instruct at Lionshead on part-time basis. 

• Why do you want this job? I am passionate about water, as everyone should be, and believe that serving on the board of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District will allow me a great opportunity to give back to the community.  I have served on many national and international boards and look forward to using my business background, coupled with community involvement experience, to assure that the local water quality,  sanitation service, and education are delivered in exemplary levels by the district while being conservative about spending and responsible with growth. 

• The district is facing several major projects over the next few years. What do you think of the current plans?  As mentioned by the fine staff at the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District during the candidates briefing, the district is forced to make the required changes by the EPA even though the current Nitrogen levels are barely over the required amount. And, during the recent "Lunch 'n Learn" event where the health of Gore Creek (which effects Eagle River) was discussed, many proactive changes to the buffer area, limiting chemical use around the river, and controlling or improving the quality of the run off, could substantially improve the level of Nitrogen and aquatic habitat. But, nevertheless, since we have to move forward with the required improvements, we must not let fear dictate impulsive reactions to increase taxes and surrender our rights as citizens. (For example, the $1M savings over 30 years of the life of the bond could be considered normal cost of doing business and oddly enough, accepting some small grants could actually hurt the financial standing of the district in the long run.) Therefore, I am against increasing property taxes and the elimination of TABOR.  Please vote for me as the Director for District #2, and no for both A and B issues on the ballot.