More people and vehicles
By Mark Reaman
The Crested Butte Town Council amended its 2016 budget to consider an additional $394,500 in anticipated sales tax revenue to be collected this year. Voters approved a .5 percent sales tax increase last November, earmarked for Parks and Recreation, and it is expected to generate close to $400,000 in new tax revenue this year.
Under the budget amendment, parks will get a new full-time employee along with a full-time seasonal employee. Park maintenance supplies will be increased and a bike park project will be built in the gravel pit. A sidewalk and retaining wall by the tennis courts is also now in the budget.
Given the developments with the Mt. Emmons mine situation and a potential hybrid annexation north of town, the legal budget was increased to $242,100 from $167,100.
Town councilman Chris Ladoulis anticipated the town would incur some additional costs in an effort to replace town manager Todd Crossett. Crested Butte finance director Lois Rozman said that would require a future amendment to the budget.
Jim Starr of the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition (CCWC) spoke in favor of the budget amendment, especially the increase in the legal budget. “The Mt. Emmons project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we strongly support the increase in legal fees,” he said.
Starr also told the council that the CCWC had been gathering data for the last dozen years or so and was now expected to step up efforts to work with the Mt. Emmons Mining Company and local government entities to help develop permanent water quality standards for Coal Creek. That might take some additional funds and he asked the council to “consider a placeholder” in the budget for the group. He expected to come back within a month with a specific request that he estimated at $20,000. He said the CCWC would also be approaching the county for additional funding.
Starr said the Bureau of Land Management was anticipated to put about $400,000 in improvements to the Oh Be Joyful camping area on the Slate River, but given that a lengthy NEPA process was required first, that money wasn’t expected to be available this summer.
“I wish they’d take some of that $400,000 and pay for additional outhouses up that valley,” said councilman Jim Schmidt.
In terms of budgeting, Schmidt again lobbied for expansion and improvements to the public restrooms at the Four-way Stop now located at the north end of the Visitors Center building. He proposed opening up the building, expanding the bathrooms and using it as the primary bus stop instead of constructing a whole new building. That will be considered but likely won’t happen this summer.
As a result of the increase in sales tax directed to the town Parks Department, money for the rest of the town budget will be freed up. This year the budget will now allow for a new patrol car for the marshals and other town vehicles, a new loader and some building improvements including carpet and bathroom improvements for the Town Hall and a new heating system for the Marshal’s Office.
The council voted to approve the amended budget, but expect to see another one later in the year.