Mayor's Minute 2020 Budget Edition

Categories: Mayor's Minute

Hello neighbors,

Last month, Mountain Village Town Council approved the 2020 town budget totaling $39.5 million*, after pulling out pass-through items (i.e., gondola, tourism, and museum budgets). I would like to thank the Budget Committee, led by Jack Gilbride and Pete Duprey, 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, ended 2019 with healthy General Fund reserves of $12.4 million while simultaneously reducing debt. Below are a few highlights from the 2020 budget.

*Note that the $39.5 million figure reflects potential costs associated with a VCA expansion that has not yet been approved.

The town’s revenues are primarily derived from three sources: sales taxes (51%), property taxes (43%), and building activity fees (6%). As our town matures, we will transition to a budget that is more reliant on sales and property taxes than on construction and development fees. However, development in Mountain Village is still important and reflected in the expectations for this budget and the years moving ahead.

INFRASTRUCTURE & CAPITAL

Village Court Apartments - $14,643,000 (project still pending direction and approval)
Town Council continues to discuss the potential expansion ofVillage Court Apartments (VCA). Specifically, we are considering whether the proposed project is developed by the town or a private developer and whether it is designed as a rental or for-sale development. As a brief recap, of the 1,203 occupied affordable housing units in San Miguel County, 539 or 44.8%, are in Mountain Village; however, only 120 of those units, or 22%, are owner-occupied deed-restricted housing. As we continue to explore options as part of our due diligence, we will need to examine financing options, complete a market analysis, conduct a local survey of residents and business owners, and draft a developed project proforma. While all of us would prefer a project with a more certain and expedited timeline, there is a fiduciary and community responsibility to consider all our current housing development options. Additionally, we are sensitive that our decisions today impact not only this project but the available options and resources to fund future community housing needs.

Broadband system fiber capacity upgrades (1G project) - $2,123,000

Last year the Town of Mountain Village was excited to announce the official launch of our Fiber to the Premise project, which is slated to deliver ultra-high-speed 1-gigabit internet to the exterior of each property in Mountain Village by the end of 2020. Crews have already begun installing the new fiber network underground in certain parts of Mountain Village and the fiber construction is planned to resume in the spring and be completed in 2020. These fiber upgrades are a critical investment in meeting our personal and business needs for improved connectivity. To learn more about the fiber project and to sign up for the updates on the fiber construction project, please visit townofmountainvillage.com/fiber.

Sidewalk, trails, and bike lane improvements in Mountain Village - $1,497,000

This year the Mountain Village Town Council took a number of key steps and investments to enhance the safety and walkability of our community. We approved the funding of a number of safety enhancements, such as sidewalks and bike lanes, to help make biking and walking along Lower San Joaquin Road, Mountain Village Boulevard, and Upper Country Club Drive safer and easier. These three roads were selected based on public feedback, traffic conditions, and Town Council’s concerns about bikes and pedestrians through these corridors. This past summer a dismount zone was implemented in the Village Center plazas requiring cyclists to dismount and walk their bike across the plazas or continue riding using the designated bike bypass routes. The launch of the expanded Telluride Bike Park brought many more cyclists to the Village Center, so it is important to all involved that we continue to invest in keeping our plazas and streets useable and safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. The town is currently in the process of engaging an engineer to develop plans and construction is slated to begin this spring.

Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant capacity upgrades - $852,000

Major upgrades continue at the Wastewater Treatment Plant located at Lawson Hill. All costs and responsibilities to improve the current facility are funded by Telluride and Mountain Village, 65%/35% respectively. The two main goals are:

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

The project is currently estimated to cost Mountain Village taxpayers $5.8 million over the course of the next four years. Conversations with Telluride and key stakeholders are ongoing regarding the best technologies to meet our Phase 2 upgrade goals and further how we responsibly fund 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; afterward, a bond or sewer district will need to be in place.

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. To help defray these costs, water rates for customers in Ski Ranches and Skyfield will again be increased 20% in 2020. The phased plan to replace the aging infrastructure commenced in summer 2018 and will continue over the course of many years.

Property Tax

Due to valuation changes triggered by the Colorado Gallagher Amendment, residential property owners in Mountain Village can expect a modest decrease in their property taxes this year ($32.30 per $1 million of actual value).

Legal Savings

Working together with our legal team we were able to reduce the legal budget 21%, down $102,000 in 2020.

FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Lastly, I hope you will use our 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

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