November Mayor’s Minute

Mayor's Minute

Words by Dan Jansen / Mayor's Minute

Dear neighbors,

The snow is certainty building and the anticipation is growing. With that, we hope to see many of you for Opening Day later this month. It’s sure to be one of the best ski seasons yet.

As for government business matters, last month Mountain Village continued its budget process with a special all-day meeting in which we, as a Council,  took some specific actions. First, we approved temporary COWS (Cell Tower on Wheels) so that hopefully Mountain Village residents and guests will have better cell service this season until a permanent solution is provided. Continuing, Council conducted a detailed budget discussion with each town department director which included review of their goals, performance metrics and priorities. This turned into a day full of comments and follow-up questions too numerous to list here, but I encourage you to come to the November 19 Town Council meeting to hear the results. Worth noting, one concern raised by Council was that while many of the budget requests endorsed had merit on their own, in aggregate the level of spending has risen, thus Council needs to look for ways to limit that growth.

In addition, Council discussed the merits of hiring a specialist consultant to benchmark Mountain Village costs versus similar towns to inform next year’s budget process. Though a decision was not reached to move forward with such an idea, a project plan and potential costs will be discussed at a future meeting. That said, for this year, the November 19 meeting will include a review of an analysis that begins with last year’s budget numbers, adjusts for inflation, and then flags every item that represents a material increase. Council guidance from the Finance Department included deferring further staff 401K benefit reductions until Council hires a specialist consultant to analyze options. (I will note that Council was split on the issue of 401k benefits.)

Other informal actions taken by Council last month included increasing the road repaving program budget, examining the Marketing and Business Development budget, and indicating a willingness to support the new producers of Telluride Gay Ski Week as they work to become self-sufficient and Telluride TV as they plan to create a media streaming facility in Mountain Village. The usual array of community grants also received a head nod. All of these ‘actions’ are in draft form until the final budget is approved in December, though November 19 is when Council will take action regarding first reading of the budget ordinance.

Wrapping things up, Council touched on some issues pertaining to 2016/2017 projects. For example, it was noted that the town’s debt for theTelluride Conference Center will be paid off in 2017. That pay-down will result in an almost 1.5 mil reduction, which is effectively a tax cut for you. Moreover, town needs to think about any and all long-range plans for that facility. Council also mentioned the need for a large waste treatment facility project coming up in 2017 that will be shared with the Town of Telluride. The overall project cost could exceed $8 million and Mountain Village’s share could be 35 percent, so we are updating and reviewing an analysis to ensure that we will have adequate water and sewer reserves to cover this large cost.

Other items on the docket for Thursday includes an update from theColorado Flights Alliance, a worksession on the town’s water system, a discussion about supporting Telluride Venture Accelerator, a worksession on converting Village Court Apartment’s energy system, an action item on a new gondola blanket policy, and our usual array of staff/Council updates and standard land use matters.

As always, please reach out if you have comments or join us Thursday, November 19 if you can.

Warm Regards,
Dan Jansen
Mountain Village Mayor

Budget Mayor’s Minute

Mayor's Minute

Words by Dan Jansen / Mayor's Minute

Dear neighbors,

We have just seen our first snowfall and our summer toys are being swapped out for ski gear, with a palpable sense of winter fun and excitement growing in the air. Last month many actions were taken, and discussions underway. We approved our vending cart policies that will allow for an additional cart in Heritage Plaza, a new cart in Conference Center Plaza and the potential for some carts to operate extended hours when activity would support it (e.g. to serve long gondola lines). We also approved an ordinance allowing Cell Towers on Wheels (COWS), which are temporary expansions of our cell phone capacity to improve system performance. The hope is that our permanent solution will be in place within a year and this ordinance will truly be a temporary measure. We also agreed to participate in a task force with members from the Town of Telluride, TMVOA, TTB and TSG to analyze the potential for a transition plan for Gay Ski Week from its current fee-for-service TMVOA supported, to an independent producer model for this upcoming season. We will hear the task force’s initial thinking at this upcoming meeting. Finally, the Town received a decision from the ski company, consistent with their rights in our parking agreements, to offer free day-use parking for the customers of the ski company in the gondola parking garage, and we will work with them to implement that this coming season.

This week we will be conducting a special budget meeting on October 29. For those with an interest in the Town finances, this is a chance to see every manager present every department’s objectives, plans, and budgets for 2016. Please join us for this critical deep dive into our finances.

Going forward, we have set our Town Council meeting schedule for the coming year. Many of the meetings will be in our usual slot on the third Thursday of the month starting at 8:30 a.m. That said, based on feedback from some residents that daytime meetings are hard to attend, we have experimented with our March, July, and December meetings starting at 3 p.m. and going into the evening. Please go to the Town’s website to see the exact schedule and let us know if these changes help or hurt your chances of participating.

Warm Regards,

Dan Jansen
Mountain Village Mayor

October Mayor’s Minute

Mayor's Minute

Words by Dan Jansen / Mayor's Minute

Dear neighbors,

I hope you are enjoying the beautiful Fall colors and the wonderful addition of some snow on the peaks. Though shoulder season is beginning, there is still plenty of activity in our town.

Last month, Town Council took several important actions. Council declined the developer’s request to extend the closing deadline for The Lofts workforce housing project. As a result the developer has indicated that they will not be continuing the project at this time. Council also agreed to pursue a more detailed planning of the Town Hall Center Subarea, assuming that or our friends at TMVOA and TSG will join us. We also passed a first reading of an ordinance to allow an additional vending cart in Heritage Plaza and remove some constraints on the types of carts that can serve us. There was also another public forum called by the Telluride Hospital District to update on the new Medical Center. Topics included financing options for the Medical Center, updates on the wetland mitigation process, and discussion of the critical access hospital (CAH) designation, among others. The Hospital District Board is conducting these sessions every few months if you missed this one.

This week we have another Town Council meeting with several important issues, in addition to several routine land use matters. There will be an important work session reviewing the findings of a recent study we commissioned to identify long term operational options for the gondola. This will help to inform the long term gondola strategy that we need to develop with our neighbors. We will also finalize our vending cart policies. There will be an important discussion of COWS (Cells Towers on Wheels), which are temporary solutions that will help to increase our cell network capacity while a permanent solution is being designed. There will also be a discussion of the Gay Ski Week event which the Tourism Board is very concerned about its potential departure from our resort. And finally, an issue that I would guess many of us have personal experience with, our safety committee has raised concerns about the blankets being offered to our gondola passengers, and the extent to which they represent a safety issue and whether we should continue to offer them.

As always, we hope you will be able to join us for this week’s meeting, whether in person or via web access. Please share your thoughts in advance if you have a moment.
Warm Regards,
Dan Jansen
Mountain Village Mayor

September Mayor’s Minute

Mayor's Minute

Words by Dan Jansen / Mayor's Minute

Dear neighbors,

I hope you are enjoying the early signs of Fall. I wanted to share a few thoughts on the recent and near term activities of the town.

A concerning event occurred recently where a positive reading for bacteria resulted from one of our routine tests of the water system. This activated a series of actions by the State Health Department, as well as our local staff. Obviously, we were relieved to get the “all clear” decision from the Health Department which concluded that the initial results were a “false positive” and that our water system, as confirmed by independent third-party experts, was indeed safe throughout the process. Thanks again to our staff who piled in and handled the situation with speed and professionalism.

Last month our Town Council addressed several important issues. A discussion of employee compensation relative to benchmarks in other resort towns helped to ensure that we are competitive and not out of line with similar towns. Bear break in problems were also discussed and an education plan developed to ensure we all do what we can to keep our residents, visitors and bears safe. Please close and lock your ground-level doors and windows, especially during this late summer/early Fall season. A worksession on vending carts in our town plazas was conducted and a policy of adding appropriate vitality was agreed; a subcommittee will help to ensure that decisions are consistent with our overall vision for the Village Core. Budget goals were also reviewed and discussed to provide guidance to the Budget and Finance Committee. We are holding a fiscally conservative course with a balanced budget, strong reserves, and selective investments including, among other things, a more detailed Town Hall Center Subarea Plan, chondola and gondola strategies, and/or more recreational amenities. Our Budget and Finance Committee will take all of this input and bake it into a first draft budget for Council to review this month.

This week in our Wednesday Town Council meeting, many of these topics will be pushed into action. We will vote on a proposed vending policy. The full Council will get its first look at the total budget as the next step in our multi-month process to approve a 2016 budget, and we will provide guidance for each department to address in forthcoming detailed departmental meetings. While the last Town Council discussion identified many opportunities to invest, now the hard work of prioritizing those opportunities begins in earnest. There are more opportunities than money, so decisions will be needed. Another long running topic, the potential Lofts workforce housing project, will be discussed and a decision will be made as to whether we should add a year to the project timeline to ensure that full community input and the results of the proposed Town Hall Center Subarea planning process can be incorporated. Finally, we will have a worksession on the recent false bacterial reading in our water system to ensure that the community and Council is fully informed, has the opportunity to ask questions, and in the spirit of no emergency going to waste, we will look for learnings as to how best to handle situations like these in the future.

As always, we look forward to your input and participation.

Warm Regards,
Dan Jansen
Mountain Village Mayor

August Mayor’s Minute

Mayor's Minute

Words by Dan Jansen / Mayor's Minute

Dear neighbors,

Thank you for the trust you have placed in me and our new colleagues on Town Council. During the election I realized that we should be communicating more and these emails represent one option. I will try to send out a few thoughts before each Town Council meeting about what has happened recently, and what we will be working on in the upcoming meeting. My goal is to keep these brief by highlighting only a few topics that might be of interest.

Our July meeting represented an opportunity to seat a new Town Council. Bruce MacIntire, Laila Benitez, and Dan Caton joined me on the Council from a field of 13 candidates. Council then elected me as your mayor and Marty McKinley as our mayor pro tem. I would again like to thank John Howe, Dave Schillaci and Jonette Bronson for their years of service on our last Council. The new Council had a fairly light agenda with a series of routine land use matters, staff reports and financial updates. We had an informative worksession on our election and voter registration processes. It was also great to see the strong economic position of the town with strong reserves, growing sales tax and development revenues, and good cost control. If you would like more specifics, please review minutes from that meeting.

Our August 20 meeting this week will have some interesting sessions including a worksession on the growing bear problem in Mountain village. The 2016 budget process is also kicking off with an important worksession discussing ‘top-down’ budget priorities that the Town Council would like our Budget and Finance Committee to develop plans around. There will also be a worksession on vending carts in our plazas: how many, what types, and when/where they operate. As I will be out of the country, our new mayor pro tem will be leading the meeting. A full agenda has been posted on our website, and as always, we would welcome your input by any means you are comfortable with, and hope to see you at the meeting.

Warm Regards,
Dan Jansen
Mountain Village Mayor

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