Briefs Crested Butte

Suggestion to stop the bus in the middle of town
The Crested Butte Town Council heard a request to have the Mountain Express add a new bus stop at the corner of Fourth Street and Elk Avenue. Don Cook of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, the Mountain Heritage Museum and Donita’s Cantina made the suggestion on Tuesday, February 16.



“This would be the one stop on Elk Avenue in the heart of the business district,” he said. “The museum would be a great draw and an attraction to people. The museum could also use a hand in getting people to the museum.”
Cook said it appeared that some improvements to Elk Avenue would be done this coming summer so the timing could be easy to add a pull-in at the curb by the museum. When the museum was Tony’s Conoco there was a pull-in for people to get gas at the location.
“We did that many years ago with the Mountain Express for about two weeks,” said Councilperson Jim Schmidt. “But the Mountain Express recommended we stop it. People got off and immediately would go in front of the bus to cross the street. The bus drivers thought it was really dangerous at the time.
“If we can find a solution to that situation, I’d be all for it,” Schmidt continued. “I have no problem trying it, but it scared a lot of the drivers at the time.”
Town Manager Susan Parker said the staff would look at the cost of the street modifications and explore the idea.

Potential business boom
So far at least 18 people have picked up applications to potentially run a medical marijuana dispensary in Crested Butte. Applications became available at the beginning of February and applications must be returned by March 1. No applications have been returned yet. The town will allow five total dispensaries and if more than   five applications are received, a lottery will be held to choose the lucky businesses.

Sales tax reality
The town’s final sales tax numbers for 2009 came in 9.6 percent down from 2008. A total of $1,919,765 was collected last year. “We’re not ecstatic about 2009 but we held our own,” summarized Crested Butte Finance Director Lois Rozman. “We did better than some other resort towns and we still have healthy fund balances.”
Rozman reported that the town’s real estate transfer tax came in 14 percent down from 2008, the school expansion shored up the water/sewer tap-in fees and affordable housing payment in lieu fees and things like overtime had been cut in all departments.
It was also pointed out that Tina Curvin in the finance department is tracking down homeowners who privately rent out their homes on sites like VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and other rental websites. “She’s a hound,” commented Parker. “She is checking out multiple web sites for short-term rentals and it is paying off for us.”
Homeowners who place their houses on the short-term rental market are responsible for town, county and state taxes.

Chalkboard crackdown coming
Town Building and Zoning Director Bob Gillie told the council that there has been a “chalkboard proliferation on Elk Avenue.” Several businesses, especially local restaurants, have gotten into the habit of placing a chalkboard or signboard near their business to attract customers.
“When we checked them out last week, eight of the 12 were out of compliance with the town code in some respect,” he said. “I’ll start doing some awareness with the business owners if the council is okay with it.”
The council asked for more information on the town code regulating the chalkboards. They also asked Gillie to gently let the business owners know of the rules.
“If we get a lot of feedback to the council, we can look closer at the code and perhaps put it on the agenda for discussion,” suggested mayor Leah Williams.
“If we get into this issue you will be into it,” reminded Gillie. “You won’t be half into it.”

Moving ORE toward sustainability
The council agreed to another $10,000 service agreement with the Office for Resource Efficiency for the next year. ORE Community Energy Coordinator Maya Silver has said ORE is restructuring itself to be more of a coordinator and clearinghouse for area energy issues, grants and infrastructure that are sustainable. “ORE’s functions are being slimmed down,” she said. “We are trying to cut out the doubling of programs.”
Town Manager Susan Parker again reemphasized to the council that the town was trying to wean non-profits from depending on town grants for their existence. “We’ve encouraged all the non-profits to be less reliant on the town,” she said. “ORE should view itself as trying to be more sustainable.”

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