Good news, bad news
Crested Butte finance director Lois Rozman gave the Town Council some good news and some bad news at their last meeting on Tuesday, September 7. She pointed out that sales tax revenues were actually up 9.6 percent for July, so overall, the town is down just 1.2 percent for the year. There are still some vendors who need to report, so the good news could get even better. The breakdown shows that lodging saw the biggest jump, at 22 percent, while retail saw a significant bump, with a 13 percent increase. Medical marijuana (MMJ) contributed to the retail increase, with two out of three of the dispensaries reporting. The MMJ business in Crested Butte contributed .7 percent of the retail sales tax collected in town.
Rozman painted a grim picture of the real estate transfer tax (RETT). The 3 percent tax on property sales in town goes to fund both the capital budget and the open space fund. “Looking at the figures through August, the RETT has turned drastically south,” Rozman said. “There’s been a 53 percent decline. We’ve taken in $265,000 versus the $563,000 we had last year through August of 2009.”
Beware 60, 61 and 101
Rozman gave the council a tutorial on Colorado ballot issues 60, 61 and 101. “If these pass this November, they will have significant impacts on municipalities,” she said.
She pointed out that if ballot issue 60 passes, the town’s wastewater facilities would have to start paying property taxes. “That will mean we’ll have to raise rates to pay those taxes that are now exempt,” she said. “#61 limits debt to ten years so takes away some bonding ability. And #101 will mean the town will lose a lot of taxes and fees on vehicles and telecommunications and it will cost us $108,000 in 2011. Combining the three measures, the reduction in revenue would be about $176,000 in the first year alone.”
Rozman said the school district would take a monster hit from the proposals, losing about half the budget.
“The impacts are so negative for us I’d like to see a resolution against these issues,” said mayor Leah Williams.
Such a resolution will be drawn up for the council.
The council heard some concern from the local marshals and fire department over the upcoming Vinotok bonfire. Last year flames were apparently extending 50 to 60 feet in the air. Vinotok fire liaison Bob Wojtalik promised to keep the fire a bit more under control, to the satisfaction of the safety personnel.
Baxter Gulch, goats and llamas
The council voted to accept the proposed trail easement for Baxter Gulch. The proposed trail would run through lot 19 of the Trappers Crossing at Wildcat subdivision and ease the route for that area. The 1% for Open Space board is having an appraisal conducted on the trail. That appraisal should be ready by September 20. The board will then decide whether or not to purchase the easement for approximately $50,000. The closing is set for October 1.
The easement would allow hikers, bikers and horses, but would not allow motorcycles. Animals would also not be allowed. “What about things like llamas and pack goats?” asked councilperson Dan Escalante. “I saw a picture of pack goats in the paper last week. It’s a legitimate concern.”
Williams explained the uses in the document in front of the council reflected the uses in the other existing easements in the connecting trails. “If we try to change all of them to allow that, it could be six or eight months,” she said.
The council voted to accept the easement as it was written and also sent a letter to the Forest Service making clear what other uses were permitted on the other easements. That includes biking; the Forest Service has indicated it would look favorably at allowing biking all the way through the area.
The Budds get a barn
The council okayed changes to the conservation easement on the Peanut Mine property. Similar changes were approved for the agricultural lease on the property. The changes will allow a barn to be built on the property by the Budd family.
Waterproof your basement
The council will consider an ordinance tightening up basement construction in town. The new ordinance would basically require that if property owners in town want a basement, it has to be waterproof. The ordinance will prohibit the pumping of water into town infrastructure or nearby wetlands. That ordinance was set for a public hearing on September 20.