$7.6 million bond issue, property tax increase going before voters
Town officials in Mt. Crested Butte agreed on Tuesday night to ask voters to allow the town to issue approximately $7.6 million in municipal bonds in the next two years. The bonds are called for in the town’s Five Year Financial Plan, which was adopted in June.
The town will also ask voters to approve three separate tax-related ballot issues, also detailed in the plan, this fall. Two involve tax increases.
During a regular Mt. Crested Butte Town Council meeting on Tuesday, July 15 the council approved the final cash amounts to be on the ballot this November.
One ballot question will seek approval to continue an existing one-half percent sales tax, used to supplement the general fund, that expires at the end of this year.
In addition, Mt. Crested Butte will also ask voters to “de-bruce” the town’s existing mil levy on property values. A mil levy is a tax on a property’s value. The change would allow the town to keep the full 5 mils it collects, instead of returning almost half the funds to taxpayers as it currently does to comply with the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, according to town finance director Karl Trujillo.
If passed, the town would like to use the “de-bruced” funds for capital expenditures, such as new vehicles, buildings, or infrastructure work.
The third tax issue proposed for November’s ballot will ask voters to approve a 3 mil property tax increase that will go toward the town’s general fund, according to town manager Joe Fitzpatrick.
The final question will ask voters to allow the town to issue $7.6 million in municipal bonds over the next two years. The money will be used to fund several key projects for the town, and will be repaid through funding strategies outlined in the Five Year Plan.
If voters approve the measures, the new funds would be used for a variety of projects. An extension of the recreation path past Marcellina Lane, a pedestrian footbridge at the entrance to town, and a complete overhaul of the town’s aging roadways are scheduled to begin in 2009 at a total cost of $5.1 million. A new maintenance facility for the town is proposed to be built in 2010 at a cost of $2.5 million. At the time the Five Year Plan was adopted the town anticipated the projects would cost $4 million and $1.9 million, respectively.
During the meeting, Fitzpatrick said the prices were increased after further review of each project and in anticipation of construction costs increasing. “We continued to look at all the major projects to make sure we were bonding for enough money,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Five Year Plan also outlines funds to bring the town’s roads up to “first class status.” The cost of road maintenance is expected to increase considerably in coming years, along with the price of oil, which is used in asphalt, and such increases were taken into consideration, Fitzpatrick said.
Town staff also took a complete inventory of the town’s road conditions. “What we did was inspect all of the town roads, and basically rated them in a one to five scale,” Fitzpatrick said. Roads in poor condition, those rated four or five, are proposed to be completely re-paved, at a cost of $2.7 million.
Council member Gary Keiser asked if the cost of the proposed footbridge for the recreation path at the entrance to town confirmed engineering estimates. Fitzpatrick said the $300,000 anticipated for that project was a guess.
The cost of the maintenance facility increased, he said, not only due to anticipated increases in construction costs, but also because town staff felt the building needed to be larger for items such as a covered fuel storage, and should be energy-efficient.
Fitzpatrick said the bond figures, if approved by the council, will be reviewed by the town’s bond underwriter for technical consistency. Trujillo said the bond underwriter will also write the actual bond question for the November ballot.
The Town Council then unanimously approved the $7.6 million bond proposal.
The town must notify the county clerk by July 25 of its intent to participate in this November’s general election. Public presentations on the bonding and taxing ballot issues, as well as the scope of the town’s Five Year Financial Plan, are scheduled to be held throughout August.