“It’s an interesting issue…”
The town of Crested Butte hopes to finalize a lease at their next council meeting for the new Mountain Express bus barn, which is slated to be built near the town shops. However, the Town Council must still decide how much to charge the Mountain Express for annual rent.
The Town Council agreed that it wants the Mountain Express to pay the associated fees with any construction project such as tap fees and affordable housing fees. A preliminary estimate for those initial fees is approximately $45,000. They also want to be able to bill the Mountain Express for recurring costs such as snow removal and insurance. The Mountain Express currently pays $17,250 a year in rent, but that includes all services.
The debate within the council and town staff is how much to charge the organization monthly “for the use of public land for the building and bus parking and the opportunity cost or future cost of not being able to expand or use that land for municipal operations,” according to a memo from town manager Susan Parker.
“I would like to see the town compensated for the use of that land,” said Parker during the Crested Butte Town Council meeting on Monday, June 2. “But I don’t know how much would be fair. We are all over the board with the leases in town. I don’t think a dollar a month is fair but I also don’t think a dollar a square foot is right either.”
“I agree with Susan that this is an interesting issue,” said Town Council member Skip Berkshire. “We need to study the cost recovery amount.”
Mayor Alan Bernholtz is leaning toward a low figure for a rental amount. “We are talking about the Mountain Express here,” he said. “It’s a lifeline for this community and something everyone uses. It is a unique entity. We also need to remember that they are paying to build the building and we will own it, and it also frees up space in our town shop. I don’t want to come down hard on an entity that’s doing a good job for the community.”
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie suggested that if lost land opportunity was an issue, the town could insert a clause in the lease whereby the town could ask the Mountain Express to leave the building with something like two years’ notice and compensation for the building cost. “It’s not likely to happen but if this is a concern if something comes up, the Town would have an option,” he said.
The council instructed the staff to come up with language to that effect and bring it back to the council at their next meeting June 16. The council wants a five-year renewable lease and they understand Mountain Express wants a lease as soon as possible.
The council also eventually wants to clarify the town’s relationship with Mountain Express and make it more equitable in their eyes with the other Mountain Express partner, the town of Mt. Crested Butte. No staff member from Mountain Express attended the meeting.