This week marks my first anniversary as mayor. Thank you for your support, encouragement and input. I appreciate the opportunity to serve this community. Town council and staff have maintained momentum in local stimulus efforts, implementation of efficiency measures and cooperation with citizens. Looking ahead we see challenges and opportunities, and we are ready to address them.
We have our own local stimulus (we didn’t make signs; they weren’t in the budget!). We preserved 322 acres of open space by purchasing the Kochevar Parcel. In partnering with the Trust for Public Land, Crested Butte Land Trust and 1% for Open Space, Great Outdoors Colorado awarded us $2 million for Phase I. We are working with user groups to design trails connecting Washington Gulch and the Slate River Road; phased construction should begin next summer. We now hold easements for Baxter Gulch access with help from 1% for Open Space.
You buy local; we buy and hire local. We awarded $587,000 in town contracts to locals. We only went outside the community when no qualified local providers submitted bids. We also purchase locally when products are available. We invested $1.5 million in infrastructure improvements, money that flowed into our local economy.
The council is proud to be able to invest in our 40 dedicated employees. They stay with us in good times and bad! Our highly-qualified staff consistently exceeds expectations – you see this everyday in how great town looks.
Efficiency measures will reduce annual operating costs. We used town employees to save money on prep work for paving projects and water and sewer line repairs. Public Works has reduced utility costs by 74 percent. Changes to wastewater processing will save $40,000/year. The upgraded Town website provides savings through online recreation signup and scheduling, easy access to forms, regulations and reports. Visit www.crestedbutte-co.gov to see for yourself.
This year the staff snagged $2.4 million of outside money, we will spend locally to leverage our limited tax dollars. The $2 million grant for Phase I of the Kochevar Parcel matched our $1 million from Town’s Open Space Fund. We received $207,000 for a Safe Route to School. The Depot received $160,000 for renovations. Old Rock Library and Town Hall received $31,000 to reduce long-term energy costs. Gunnison County Met Rec granted $25,000 for the 2011 Big Mine Park Ice Arena project. We’ve already submitted grants totaling almost $2 million for 2011 to cover the ice rink, complete Kochevar Phase II, and extend the Rec Path.
The Residential Energy Efficiency Program initiated with ORE provides free residential energy audits to demonstrate how residents can slash their own utility bills. We plan to continue this pilot program throughout town.
The so-called “Council of No” has listened to residents and business owners. We relaxed regulations to allow restaurant seating on Elk; to create three dog-friendly parks for our 330 dogs; to increase the size of free-standing business signs and carts and to accommodate more types of businesses on Elk.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan was completed with input from residents and area participants. Parks and Recreation now has a working document to plan for everything from a covered ice rink to camping at Avalanche Park.
As I look ahead to 2011, I see challenges and opportunities.
We want to preserve community, and The Affordable Housing Strategic Plan will provide a roadmap for building housing so local workers (teachers, nurses, volunteer firefighters, and dish-divers) can live here. This plan is near completion with broad consensus from builders, a banker, a realtor, a CBMR representative, a business owner, and other community and council representatives.
Sales tax revenues are flat – the “new normal”. We were down 10.8 percent in 2009. September reflects almost an 11 percent improvement year-over-year! Tax revenues for July were the highest in history, so we know many businesses had a good month. We also know our businesses and residents struggle and need more than one good month. Great news: our school’s enrollment is up 39 students!
The weak local real estate market reduces revenues from Real Estate Transfer Tax that should cover maintenance of Town buildings and parks. By 2014 General Capital Fund reserves will be depleted. In the Parks and Rec Master Plan you said you want to expand recreation opportunities. We depend on grants for capital costs. The questions keeping staff and council up nights include: how do we maintain town parks and buildings, and purchase needed equipment? How do we stabilize revenues? How do we invest our reserves wisely? We must begin discussions now so we can meet the challenges of maintaining a healthy Capital Fund.
Next August instead of the Hell’s Angels coming, we welcome Quiznos Pro Challenge bringing the world’s top cyclists to our area. The entire valley cooperated to make this happen; it’s a template for future valley-wide collaboration. We feel so passionate about this event, we’re pledging $20,000 from reserves to secure direct benefits to business in 2011 and the incalculable PR and marketing of our valley into the future.
I speak for the whole council and staff when I say that we look forward to working with you in the coming year