Mt. Crested Butte Briefs

Sales tax down
The Mt. Crested Butte sales tax report for February has been finalized and once again the numbers took a dip from last year. The collections were strong enough, however, to be greater than the town’s 2009 budget projection. According to a report from town manager Joe Fitzpatrick, the town collected just under $190,000 in sales tax, down 14 percent from February 2008.



Fitzpatrick points out that the town’s sales tax rate dropped from 4.5 percent to 4 percent at the beginning of the year. Fitzpatrick notes that if the lower sales tax were charged in 2008, the town’s 2009 collections would be only 4 percent lower.
The lodging category showed a 2 percent increase over last year, while all other categories showed a decrease.
In comparison, the town of Crested Butte had 16 percent drop in February sales tax revenues compared to last year, and the city of Gunnison had a 10.6 percent decrease.
Mt. Crested Butte took a conservative strategy with its 2009 budget calculations. The February tax collections ended up being 6.9 percent—or about $12,300—above budget.

Planning Commission seats up for grabs
There are three seats up for grabs on the Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission, but time is running out for those residents who may want to apply. The deadline to send a letter of interest to the town is Thursday, April 30 at 5 p.m. The Planning Commission conducts architectural design reviews, hears requests for variances and conditional use permits, and makes recommendations to the Town Council regarding zoning and town policies.
The three seats are currently held by Todd Barnes, Dusty Demerson and Sara Morgan. According to community development director Bill Racek, Demerson and Morgan have sent letters to re-apply, and Barnes has indicated that he will also send a letter.
There are seven members on the Planning Commission; they serve four-year terms. There is no term limit.

CBMR and town to talk recycling
The town of Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte Mountain Resort may be working together in the near future to improve recycling facilities in town. CBMR is scheduled to give a presentation of its new recycling programs to the Town Council on May 5, along with Gothic Mountain Waste Solutions. CBMR director of planning John Sale says they will discuss the tools and strategies CBMR used this past winter to improve recycling around the resort, and will present several options for collaborating with the town on a potential recycling center.

Landslides, but not on Snodgrass
A steep hillside next to Snowfall Drive is once again causing the town some trouble, except this time the town may not have to pay to fix it. According to Fitzpatrick the land is moving just below Villa’s lots 10 and 11 and several sections of landscaped rock wall are collapsing. The rock wall is above Snowfall Drive and the town has placed barriers on the road to keep pedestrians and vehicles out of danger, and to keep the rocks from rolling away. The town has hired Buckhorn Geotech to assess the potential danger to a retaining wall, the sidewalk, the road and neighboring property. Councilmember Gary Keiser noted the rock wall itself is on private property owned by the Villas Homeowners Association, and they will be responsible for fixing it. The Villas HOA has also hired Buckhorn to devise a solution.
Last year the concrete retaining wall along Snowfall Drive began to lean out of place due to earth movement, and the town paid $80,000 to have the wall repaired and upgraded.

Mountain Express funding amended
It’s always nice to save money. The towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte recently made a joint effort to help the Mountain Express bus service buy some new buses—and they’re spending less than originally anticipated. On March 3 the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council approved an expenditure of $58,000 from the town’s Mass Transportation Impact Fund to assist in the financing of the new Mountain Express bus maintenance facility, which is currently being built. Due to restrictions on the impact fund, the council could not directly support the purchase of new buses. However, the town’s contribution toward the maintenance facility would free up funds in the Mountain Express budget, which could then be spent on new buses. The majority of the cost of the buses is being covered by a federal transportation grant that required a 20 percent match. Mt. Crested Butte’s motion was contingent upon the town of Crested Butte’s making a matching donation.
But by the time the Crested Butte council considered the issue, it turned out that $58,000 was more than necessary. On April 6 the town of Crested Butte approved an expense of up to $35,000 for the bus purchase.
During the April 21 Mt. Crested Butte Town Council meeting, Fitzpatrick said each town would need to make a donation of only $29,000 to meet the requirements of the federal grant. Because the language in the town of Crested Butte’s motion specified an expense up to $35,000, they will not need to change anything. However, Mt. Crested Butte’s motion called directly for an expense of $58,000. Therefore, Fitzpatrick said the council needed to pass a new motion with a lower expenditure, which will supersede the old one. The new motion was approved unanimously.
The buses have already been ordered and will arrive in about eight months.

To ballot, or not to ballot
The town has until Monday, May 11 to notify the county clerk if it wants to have a question on the ballot during this November’s general election. Election day is November 3 this year. Fitzpatrick said there does not have to be any description of the ballot question at this point, just a notification if the town wants to participate. Town staff is recommending that the ballot include at least an admissions tax renewal question. The admissions tax expires at the end of the year, and is a 4 percent tax charged on admission-related events, including snowmobile rentals and lift tickets. The accumulated funds are divided between paying for transportation services and marketing the area.
The council will consider the issue during its May 5 meeting.

Elk hunting letter
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council is following the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners’ lead in the debate over whether to make several hunting areas in the county “draw only”. The Gunnison Stockgrowers Association had requested the council to send a letter to the Colorado Wildlife Commission in support of changing game management units (GMUs) 54, 55 and 551 to a draw-only licensing structure. Hunting licenses can currently be purchased over the counter for those units, and the request was to eliminate the availability of over-the-counter tags and switch to a lottery-based system.
After hearing arguments from both sides of the table over the last few months, the council decided on Tuesday night to send a letter to the Wildlife Commission. But, like the county commissioners, the Town Council’s letter is not specifically for or against a draw-only hunting season; instead, it encourages the Wildlife Commission and Division of Wildlife to make some effort to better control the elk population in the Gunnison Valley.
Mayor William Buck said, “The more I pour over this issue, I’m understanding it to be a land use issue and not a political issue… I come out on the side of the county commissioners.”
Councilmember Dave Clayton agreed. “I can definitely see there’s an elk population problem, but there’s no way I can tell what the appropriate solution would be from a hunting point of view,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said the county’s letter was “primarily to encourage the DOW to do something and do it now,” and the town’s letter would be very similar. Fitzpatrick did not have a letter prepared for the council’s consideration, but the council directed him to write one with the same ideas as the county’s letter and go ahead and send it.

Parcel of land is eligible for annexation
The council passed a resolution Tuesday night approving the eligibility of an 8.7-acre parcel of land for annexation into the town. The town held a public hearing to discuss the parcel’s eligibility for annexation on March 17, during which several residents voiced concerns about the density of the proposal and the lack of open space or public amenities. The annexation is being proposed by Brush Creek Holdings, LLC, and calls for a total of 43 units including single family homes and multi-family condos. During the March meeting the council directed staff to prepare a resolution approving the parcel’s eligibility, but with the consideration that density and public amenities would be decided later in the annexation process. The council unanimously approved the resolution with little discussion.

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