“I don’t think that’s the best use of DDA dollars”
Earlier this summer the town of Mt. Crested Butte began looking for bids to fix a street-side retaining wall that was leaning out of place. However, with the town’s regular budget strapped for cash, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) agreed to pay for the $80,000 expense—a week after construction began.
On Monday, October 6, Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick told the DDA board that construction was under way to fix the damaged road, but town itself did not have the money to pay for it. He explained that the town’s “use” tax, which could normally cover this kind of project, was coming in $80,000 under budget this year. Furthermore, Fitzpatrick said, the town’s budget was particularly tight after snowplowing costs for the early 2008 winter months were $168,000 over budget. “The DDA is the only source of money that’s out there that’s able to repair it,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said the retaining wall on Snowfall Drive was originally a DDA project, built about eight years ago, and rests on the southern edge of the DDA’s boundary. A decorative rock covering on the wall was taken off several years ago due to deterioration.
The town manager said the town has been trying to find a contractor to do the work for some time, but has not had any success securing a bid. The latest bid was taken at the beginning of September, and the contractor hired to complete the project presented a short window that they could work in. They began construction the last week of September.
Fitzpatrick said he spoke with DDA chairman Allen Cox prior to the meeting about the matter.
Cox said he and Fitzpatrick agreed the time was right and they needed to move on it. “It was kind of a hazard, too,” Cox said of the retaining wall.
The DDA board voted five against two to fund the project, with Chip Christian and Sara Morgan voting against and expressing frustration at the process.
Board member Al Smith said he understood the need to okay a project quickly to fit in a limited construction window, but looked to Cox when he said the board should be consulted before approving this kind of funding.
Christian agreed and said, “I think we’re setting a dangerous precedent. We have a process for approving this kind of stuff. There were no phone calls made. Easily we could have gotten a quorum together and got it done the right way.”
Morgan noted it was originally a DDA project and a repair the current board inherited, but said she didn’t think the retaining wall fix was the sort of thing the DDA should be involved in. “If it’s not something that’s amenity-driven like a pedestrian bridge or a recreation center… I don’t think that’s the best use of DDA dollars. I wouldn’t vote for that type of project to begin with.”
Work on the retaining wall should now be complete.