Mayor’s Minute: Budget Edition

Budget Blog

Words by Bill Kight / Community, Government, Mayor's Minute

Hello neighbors,

Earlier this month, Town Council approved the 2018 Town Budget totaling $21 million, after pulling out pass-through items (i.e., gondola, tourism, and museum budgets). I would like to thank the Budget Committee, led by Dan Caton and Jack Gilbride, for working with the Town Manager and Finance Department to develop a budget that includes numerous large-scale investments in our infrastructure, focuses on community development, and maintains a healthy reserve of $12 million while simultaneously reducing debt. Below are a few highlights from the 2018 budget.

PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION
Expect to see a reduction in your property tax bill in the coming year as a result of the town paying off debt related to the Conference Center, Heritage Parking Garage, and the Water & Sewer bond. Residential homeowners can expect a reduction of approximately $800 per $1 million in actual property value, while commercial property owners will see a decrease of approximately $2,800 per $1 million in actual property value.

INFRASTRUCTURE & CAPITAL

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades – $761,000
We are embarking on major upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant located at Lawson Hill. All costs and responsibilities to improve the current facility will be funded by The Town of Telluride and Town of Mountain Village, 70%/30% respectively. The two main goals are:

  1. Upgrading facilities to comply with new federal treatment and outflow standards
  2. Increasing capacity to manage current and future demand

The project is currently estimated to cost Mountain Village $10 million over the course of the next five years, with approximately $761,000 budgeted to be spent in 2018. We will determine early next year, in conjunction with Telluride, whether to seek bond funding for this critical infrastructure upgrade. Both towns are also looking at how to distribute some of the cost of these improvements to other users of the facility in future years.

Ski Ranches Water System Improvement Plan – $250,000
The Ski Ranches water system has the oldest water infrastructure in the Mountain Village water system, which has been prone to ongoing, major leaks. Also, the water from this system would be critical to firefighters responding to areas south of Mountain Village Blvd. The plan is phased to replace the aging infrastructure over the course of many years and will commence in the summer of 2018.

Water Well Power Generator – $150,000
We currently lack backup power to provide water services should we experience an extended power outage. Given the numerous power outages experienced over the years, the Public Works Department will be installing emergency power generators to essential water wells and tanks.

Town Hall Center Subarea Plan – $75,000
In 2016, the Telluride Ski ResortTelluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA), and the town came together, formed a working committee, and hired an outside firm to focus on creating a welcoming sense of arrival and enhancing resident and visitor amenities in the Town Hall Center Subarea. In 2018, this committee will work together towards implementing the approved projects and infrastructure upgrades.

Village Center Subarea Plan- $150,000
The Village Center Subarea Committee is launching a holistic study of the core to determine how we can best meet the vision of a vibrant and robust Village Center. Once again, the committee will work with an outside design firm to meet three main goals:

  1. Review existing and future plans for an engaging Village Center
  2. Determine if infrastructure upgrades are necessary to meet our future goals
  3. Conduct a review of undeveloped parcels in the Village Center

Similar to the Town Hall Subarea process, numerous public workshops will be held to gather input and share the committee’s progress. We hope you are able to participate in this important process as it is essential that the Village Center continues to be not only our commercial hub but an integrated community gathering space for our residents and guests.

ONGOING INVESTMENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY

Technology Audit – $110,000
The town will be contracting with an outside firm to perform an audit of its IT systems to ensure we are protecting against cybersecurity threats. An audit of our Broadband services will also be conducted to ensure our Broadband systems are sufficient for our growing needs and that we have robust redundancy protections in place.

Employee Compensation – To be determined based on merit reviews
Based on resident feedback, the town hired an independent consultant in 2017 to review and compare town employees’ salaries and benefits to comparable towns such as Telluride, Crested Butte, and Aspen. Based on the consultant’s recommendations, Council voted that wages should be at 95% of the market average, and employees who currently do not fall within their wage range be increased to meet the range, depending on the results of each employee’s merit review.

Additionally, we will be reviewing and making necessary adjustments to the town’s employee benefit plan to bring it more in line with other municipalities.

New Staff Hires
Based on continued increasing activity levels and visitor traffic, Council voted to approve an additional police officer with the caveat that we need a more consistent Community Services and Mountain Village Police presence in the Village Center. The vote to hire an additional officer will return the Police Department to 2012 staffing levels. This was the only new position approved for hire in 2018.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of your other Council members with any questions or concerns you may have.

Happy Holidays,

Laila Benitez
Mountain Village Mayor