Monday, September 24, 2018
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Speaking of: People, annexations, TAs, sales tax and more

Like the first weekend in July, August or September, there’s a lot of stuff coming up right now. The numbers look off the chart for the coming ski season. More people will be flying in. More people are making hotel reservations. More people will be here period.

Speaking of more people: The off-season is getting a little crowded. What off-season, you might ask? October sales tax revenue in Crested Butte shot up 27-percent this year. Unless you are spending a lot more money on beer and diamonds, that translates to more people. More people are in restaurants, more people are buying t-shirts and more people are renting bikes. Spring will always bring with it a natural break, but fall is filling up.

Speaking of filling up: The town of Crested Butte began a formal annexation proceeding Monday night. A Dallas developer wants to add another 75 residential lots to the town. The first meeting with the council that ultimately decides whether or not to annex was pretty much all champagne and unicorns. Everyone wants the best development the galaxy has ever seen. Everyone wants it to be unique. It is a long process and based on past experience, there will come a time when the developers feel the goal posts will be moved by the town and the council will feel squeezed by the developers. So enjoy the champagne now.
Not to be cynical, but “best” and “unique” means different things to different people so don’t take it personally if you think the other side is sometimes aiming the unicorn in an uncomfortable place. It’s part of the long process. But I implore both sides to be honest as quickly as possible about anything that is a real “deal breaker” in any new annexation. Don’t wait until meeting number 70 to mention a major issue. That will make a far better process. And make sure the other side really understands what you want.

Speaking of process: The Tourism Association is moving toward a fresh start. Its main board (there are at least three) approved new bylaws Tuesday that reflect a desire by the county commissioners to be more streamlined, accountable and transparent. There is nothing wrong with those goals and the commissioners are pretty much the TA’s only client so they didn’t have a lot of choice. It should make for a better use of public funds.

Speaking of public funds: The Crested Butte Town Council passed a 2015 budget by one vote Monday. Four of seven council members agreed it wasn’t the right move to eliminate some summer amenities such as Elk Avenue flowers, bike racks and softball field maintenance, to save $30,000 with millions of dollars sitting in the bank in reserves. Good move, and I remain baffled by those who wanted to cut to prove a point. The point was made and the council is at least indicating that they understand the long-term situation and will make philosophical adjustments to keep on-going spending under control.

Speaking of control and money: The Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte councils came to what appears a good way to spend a half-million bucks left by the Whatever USA event. Mt. Crested Butte for the most part contended they just wanted to complete their Rec Path in town. Now they will. The Big Mine Warming House serves a broad array of people in both summer and winter and major improvements are well needed. Throwing $140,000 at infrastructure in two Crested Butte blocks designated for affordable housing is a good long-term view that will help maintain the character of the entire place.

Speaking of the place: We are caretakers of a pretty good place. Let’s not go overboard with too much of everything without thought to make more things and have less time to enjoy the place. We can find a balance and it is nice to be on the rebound.
The signs are pointing to the pendulum swinging back again. I like new energy, and seeing friends start to once more thrive just a bit is a blessing. But the last thing we want to do is look back in 20 years and wonder what happened to the cool mountain town we moved to.

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