Summer is finally almost here and we are happy to slowly and cautiously be working together to re-open our community. The last three months have been challenging for all of us and we are going to need everyone to continue working together to keep our community healthy and moving forward.
Village Court Apartment RFP
This week, Town Council will consider approving and issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the potential sale of Village Court Apartments (VCA). As you may recall, this was originally scheduled for our March meeting however, the conversation was put on hold due to public health orders and COVID-19 concerns.
Over the last several years, we have received numerous unsolicited offers to purchase our affordable housing complex and we felt it was necessary to explore a formal and transparent RFP process for receiving offers. Town Council has a fiscal responsibility to seek and explore long-term solutions that benefit our entire community. We would like to reiterate, the proposed RFP process ensures that VCA will only be sold if a qualified buyer can prove their commitments that VCA will be maintained and operated at or above its current standards, and that VCA will remain deed-restricted in perpetuity.
We have held two public forums on Zoom for the community to ask questions regarding the proposed RFP, and there is one more virtual forum to be held tonight at 5 p.m.
Legal Services RFP
Earlier this year, Town Council decided to issue a Request for Proposals for Legal Services. As part of this process, we are considering contracting with either a law firm or an independent contract attorney or potentially hiring an in-house town attorney. The RFP has been issued and our goal is to finalize our choice by mid-August. David Reed and his colleagues at the Law Offices of J. David Reed have been instrumental in all of the important town initiatives over many years, and we would like to thank them for their attentive and thoughtful service to our community.
COVID Financial Impacts
Once Governor Jared Polis closed all Colorado ski resorts closed on March 14, the Mountain Village Town Council began meeting weekly to ensure timely and responsible responses to the massive health and economic impacts we were suddenly facing. Local sales tax proceeds made up 51% of revenues for our town in 2019, and initial estimates are projecting a sales tax revenue reduction between $1.5 to $2.2 million in 2020. Additionally, we expect to see reductions in other revenue sources, which could be as large as the sales tax revenue reductions. As of today, we have already experienced a sharp decline in sales taxes and other revenue sources, and we are cautiously planning for the possibility of these impacts continuing into 2021.
Due to these projected shortfalls, Town Council drafted and began implementation of a COVID-19 Recession Policy in April, which outlines revenue loss parameters that have triggered pre-identified spending reductions. As a result, Town Council deferred most 2020 capital infrastructure projects, placed all non-critical staff on a leave of absence, reduced and/or temporarily halted all non-essential municipal services, eliminated all travel and training, implemented a hiring freeze, and initiated additional temporary budget reductions. Because of the nature of this pandemic, Town Council chose to continue providing all employees who have been placed on a temporary leave of absence with health insurance benefits.
Our primary goals remain to provide essential services and maintain town infrastructure while offsetting potentially $4.5 million in lost revenues. The enactment of these measures was not taken lightly, and we continue to ask our community to be sensitive to the impact these temporary measures will have on your neighbors and patient with the reduction in municipal service levels.
Community Crisis Support
In response to the drastic rise in local unemployment and school closures, Town Council waived the entire April rent payment for all VCA residents; provided free WIFI to VCA residents and several families throughout the Village to ensure that all children have the tools to keep up with their schoolwork; and we increased funding to our local food subsidy program and launched a program delivering school lunches and food bank baskets directly to Mountain Village families during this time. We continue to work with our regional partners to address the unmet needs in our community and thank everyone who makes these programs possible.
Village Center Vibrancy
The Business Development Advisory Committee (BDAC), in partnership with TMVOA, has purchased additional outdoor seating, umbrellas, heaters, and lighting to prepare the plazas for increased outdoor dining and retail opportunities that allow for proper social distancing. We are working with our restaurants to increase their online presence to make it easier for you to see what’s on the menu and order online. Additionally, we are creating a number of open-air seating zones to allow more safe spaces for family and friends to spend time together outdoors. Now, more than ever, our restaurants and retailers need your community support - let’s all shop and eat local.
As part of our effort to help keep our community safe from the potential COVID-19 transmission, last week Town Council voted unanimously to require that face coverings be worn inside all public places of business and on all public transportation. I am asking everyone to do your part to reduce the spread of infections by wearing a face covering whenever you are inside a public place of business or riding public transportation. As we have seen in neighboring states, the COVID virus is still very active and quick to spread. Let’s work together to keep Mountain Village safe, healthy, and open for our full and part-time residents, businesses, and guests.
Remember the Five Commitments:
- Wash hands frequently.
- Wear a mask in public.
- Maintain 6-feet of physical distance.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Get tested immediately if you have any symptoms. (Please contact the Telluride Medical Center.)
Mountain Village Mayor
For more information on other ways Mountain Village is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to submit your questions or concerns, please visit townofmountainvillage.com/coronavirus.