Mayor’s Minute 2019 Budget Edition

Mayors Minute

Words by Laila Benitez / Mayor's Minute

Hello neighbors,

Last month, Town Council approved the 2019 town budget totaling $32 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 healthy general fund reserves of $10.2 million while simultaneously reducing debt. Below are a few highlights from the 2019 budget:

INFRASTRUCTURE & CAPITAL

Village Court Apartments expansion – $9.4 million to be determined
Preliminary plans were approved for an estimated 49-unit expansion of the Village Court Apartments, which would be paid for through a revenue loan and dedicated affordable housing funds. Project plans are still being finalized and pending Town Council approval. If the project plans are approved, the revenue loan would be funded by the collected rents and dedicated affordable housing funds.

Broadband system fiber capacity upgrades (1G project) – $1.5 million

This past year, the Town contracted with an outside firm to perform an audit of our broadband services to determine if our systems are sufficient for our growing needs, capable of providing robust redundancy protections, and to determine the feasibility of increasing our broadband capacity. Based on the completed study, the town is undertaking a major upgrade to our broadband network infrastructure that will allow us to offer improved 1G fiber services to every home. After completing the request for proposals process, design, and engineering in the first half of 2019, the town aims to begin construction this summer and complete the project by end of year 2020. The overall cost of the two-year project is $3.1 million.

Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant capacity upgrades – $800,000

Major upgrades continue at the  Wastewater Treatment Plant located at Lawson Hill.  All costs and responsibilities to improve the current facility are funded by The Town of Telluride and Mountain Village (65% and 35% respectively).

The two main goals are:

The project is currently estimated to cost Mountain Village taxpayers $5.8 million over the course of the next five years. Conversations with Telluride and key stakeholders are ongoing regarding whether to seek bond funding for this critical infrastructure upgrade. Both towns are looking at how to equitably distribute the cost of these improvements to shared users of the facility in future years. Mountain Village’s existing water and wastewater rates are adequate to cover operating expenditures through at least 2023, afterwards a bond or sewer district will need to be in place.

Trail improvements within Mountain Village – $300,000

Due to recent proposed developments in the Boston Commons area, a new pedestrian bridge will be constructed to maintain the Meadows Trail (between Lawson Hill and Adams Ranch Road). In addition, funds will go towards ongoing trail maintenance throughout Mountain Village.

Ski Ranches water system improvement plan – $250,000

The Ski Ranches water system has the oldest water infrastructure in the Mountain Village water system and is prone to ongoing, major leaks. The water from this system is critical to supporting possible future firefighting efforts should a fire occur south of Mountain Village Boulevard. The phased plan to replace the aging infrastructure commenced in summer 2018 and will continue over the course of many years.

Village Pond restoration – $115,000

As outlined by the Village Center Subarea Project, the Village Pond across from the Telluride Conference Center will be dredged and receive necessary maintenance to help revitalize this key natural asset in the Village Center.

Completion of wayfinding improvements – $100,000

The last phase of the two-year wayfinding project will conclude with gondola, parking, trail, and supplementary signage.

ON-GOING INVESTMENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY

New staff hires

Based on the results of the Town IT audit and broadband studies, Town Council unanimously voted to hire a new, senior-level director to oversee the upcoming 1G broadband capacity expansion, adoption, installation of essential cybersecurity measures and determine next steps with our cable system. This was the only new position approved for hire in 2019.

Financial transparency

Lastly, we are very excited about the launch of a new interactive tool that allows you to view all town budget and financial data in an easy, user-defined portal. The new financial transparency portal, in partnership with OpenGov, offers in-depth financial reporting with two years of actuals, current, and proposed budgets that can also be viewed in interactive charts and graphs.

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

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year,

Happy Holidays,

Laila Benitez
Mountain Village Mayor