Staff can now borrow from retirement funds
On Tuesday, March 17 the Mt. Crested Butte town council passed a resolution allowing town employees to obtain a loan from their respective retirement account funds. According to town finance officer Karl Trujillo the loans will be paid back as a payroll deduction after tax. The interest on the loans, which is quite low, goes back into the employee’s retirement fund Trujillo said. He said employees will be able to borrow a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $50,000.
“Can you think of any reason why not to do it?” council member Mike Kube asked of the program.
“It’s the employee’s money. I don’t see why not,” Trujillo said.
The rest of the council agreed that the loan program was a good tool for employees to have in the current economy and approved the resolution unanimously. Council members Bill Babbitt and Wendy Fisher were absent.
Town trying to save airport
Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport manager John DeVore asked the council to write a letter to U.S. Congress in opposition to a piece of legislation that potentially could require additional firefighting and rescue personnel at the local airport. The Federal Aviation Administration must be reauthorized by Congress and has been operating on a temporary resolution for the past two years. The reauthorization process opens the door for changes in the way the FAA is managed, and for the second year in a row the International Fire Fighting Association is asking Congress to consider additional Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) personnel and equipment at all airports.
In a March 5 letter to the town manger, DeVore writes “if they are successful the additional cost, which will not be covered by the FAA, has the potential to terminate commercial air service to small communities like Gunnison. We would have no choice but to pass this cost on to the commercial carriers.”
The town sent a similar letter of opposition in June 2008. “How many of us were here when we sent that last letter?” mayor William Buck asked the council. Several of the council members had just been elected, but they all remembered the discussion. Kube made a motion to approve the letter and it passed unanimously.
Sales tax down again
Sales tax in January 2009 took a dive again in Mt. Crested Butte. January collections totaled $185,316, which was 16.4 percent below the previous year. “Things are tight,” Fitzpatrick said. The collections are 7.1 percent below the town’s budget for 2009. Restaurant business posted a 3.9 percent increase in January, but all other categories shows a decrease. The town is also suffering because the sales tax rate dropped from 4.5 percent to 4 percent. In November, the town asked voters to consider keeping the additional 0.5 percent sales tax along with a property tax increase, but the ballot issue was not approved.
Fitzpatrick noted that the town had nearly the same collections in January 1992. At the time the town was charging 4 percent sales tax, and collected $187,560 for the month.
Trujillo said the town would be keeping a close eye on sales tax collections in March. “We usually collect 65 percent of our sales tax revenue in the first three months of the year… this is our big month for sales tax,” he said.
End, or new beginning, in sight for condemned home
A home in Mt. Crested Butte was condemned in February. The building no longer had a source of heat and part of the deck had collapsed. The home was foreclosed last year and has been in the ownership of a San Francisco based bank. An appeals period for the condemnation notice expired on March 10. According to a March 14 report from community development director Bill Racek, the owner now has until August 11 to acquire the necessary permits to either repair or demolish the building.
More stimulus opportunity
In addition to stimulus package grants that will fund road and bridge projects across the country, there are also stimulus funds directed toward energy efficiency and sustainability efforts and the town of Mt. Crested Butte is looking for a piece of the action. According to Racek, the recently enacted stimulus legislation will provide $3.2 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. “The purpose of these grants are to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, reduce our own energy use, and to improve energy efficiency,” Racek wrote. He said Mt. Crested Butte community development administrative assistant Theresa Henry is researching the feasibility of using stimulus grant money to implement items in an energy action plan the council will be considering soon, as well as the possibility of funding projects like the recreation path extension, new pedestrian bridge and improved street lighting.
Finally, a place to get the mail
In his report to the town council, Racek said town manager Joe Fitzpatrick had directed the building department to develop building plans for a post office box facility on the TC-1 parcel. Racek said he and Carlos Velado were working on the plans. In the report, he writes, “the site can easily accommodate a building and leave the majority for future development.”
During the council meeting on Tuesday night, council member Gary Keiser asked, “where is TC-1?”
Racek replied, “TC-1 is the old Inn Site 2, and old Inn Site 2 is the Rasta lot. You know where the Rasta lot is?”
Keiser said he was familiar with it, and Racek then explained that the old bus shelter along Emmons Road was a part of TC-1 and was the spot considered for the postal facility.
“So far you think that may work?” Keiser asked.
“Oh yes. It’s a really nice site,” Racek said.
The plans are scheduled to go before the town’s Downtown Development Authority for preliminary review on April 6, but there’s no telling how the construction of the facility will be funded.