I hope you are enjoying the tail end of our beautiful Fall season and are contemplating when to get those skis out and tuned up. Let me apologize in advance for a very long Mayor’s Minute as we have several important matters to report on, including actions taken in our usual meetings and our special budget meeting.
September 22 Meeting Highlights
1 > Town Council reappointed Gary Bash to represent Mountain Village on the Telluride Regional Airport Authority Board. Special thanks to others who threw their hat in the ring; I know your opportunity to serve will come. Airport Manager Rich Nuttall provided an update on the significant improvements happening over the coming year including new aprons, resurfacing, an expanded FBO and the work being done to reintroduce commercial service this December.
2 > Town Council endorsed the creation of the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation, which will appear on the November ballot.
3 > An ordinance to prohibit the subdivision of single-family lots in areas zoned residential passed on second reading.
4 > Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution in support of Indigenous Peoples Day, which took place October 8.
5 > Town Council approved a revised parking rates system that emphasizes more free parking in order to create a visitor experience that is easier and more convenient. With that, beginning November 15 motorists will be able to download the free Parkmobile application, allowing them to pay for parking via the app, extend their allotted parking time without having to travel back to the garage or lot, and receive parking reminders directly on their smart phone.
6 > Town Council decided not to proceed with the potential sale of Village Court Apartments citing concerns of losing this critical asset for its workforce, and the potential loss of the employee deed restriction should a new owner enter into bankruptcy. That said, town learned about some of the benefits of a possible sale and decided to form a small taskforce to explore those benefits without actually selling the asset.
7 > Town Council reviewed a first draft of the 2107 budget as the next step in our rigorous and detailed budget process. Council is targeting a slightly lower operational budget compared to last year’s budget, and will isolate the investment areas that will result in a drawdown of reserves, including a four percent compensation increase for employees, which is at the mid-point of the range of resort town benchmarks.
8 > The town’s capital investments will drawdown reserves by $1.2 million due to the purchase and buildout of the new park in the Meadows neighborhood. In addition, the mill levy (taxes) will drop from 11.8 mils to 1.8 mills in 2018 given the pay down of the Telluride Conference Center and some water and sewer debt. This represents a nice tax cut for our constituents.
9 > That said, the waste water plant will likely increase our mill levy in future years as a multi-million dollar expansion is being planned to accommodate our growth and comply with new FDA standards.
10 > Telluride TV reported on the use of its new television facility in Mountain Village, citing several examples where the network broadcast facility was used 87 times since it opened its doors in May, and created a media ad value impact of $1.8 million.
11 > Hilary Cooper provided an update on the regional Forest Health Initiative aimed to create a landscape assessment of the forest shared with the other governments.
12 > Director Dawn Katz reported on the Mountain Munchkins program, which is thriving. As one of the only infant care facilities in the region, Dawn reported a waitlist and Town Council asked to contemplate expanding the facility and program.
Three weeks later, Town Council convened for a Special Town Council meeting focused on the 2017 budget where councilmembers walked through each department’s detailed submissions. Restating the discussions of an eight-hour hour meeting would fill pages. Instead, some key takeaways worth pointing out follow.
October 13 Budget Meeting Highlights
1 > Town Council approved a resolution supporting the small mill levy reinstatement vote to continue operations at the Lone Tree Cemetery, which is a historic gem in our community.
2 > Town Council discussed a significant drop in the mill level for the town resulting from the pay-off of the Telluride Conference Center debt at the end of 2017.
3 > Town Council agreed to fund the Telluride Conference Center marketing and capital at the same level as in years past and to form a subcommittee to determine the best management of the facility after 2017.
4 > Town Council endorsed an increase in the guest service budget in order to offer additional guest service hours during the summer months in Oak Street Plaza in Telluride and in Mountain Village Center. Council also discussed expanding the Guest Service Program through the winter season.
5 > Administrative budgets included only modest increases related to merit increases, but were generally flat.
6 > The town’s child care development fund continues to subsidize infant and early child care in the community, and the waitlist continues to grow. With that, Council asked that the budget include planning funds in order to evaluate whether an expansion or relocation of the facility is needed. The recent closure of a childcare facility in Telluride has exacerbated this pressure.
7 > The Plaza & Environmental Services team is adding a staff member to continue to support the growing number of events and activities in the town and on the plazas.
8 > The Cable and Broadband Department will expand its capacity in the core of town almost four times, which is part of the town’s continuing goal of providing excellent Internet and cell services in our small remote town.
9 > Public Works Department director spoke to the town’s many assets: buildings, roads, vehicles, water and waste treatment. Budgets are generally flat, though Council anticipates a significant cost coming over the next few years for the upgrade and expansion of the waste water treatment plant.
10 > The road maintenance budget is following the current resurfacing plan, though a recent road failure on Touchdown Drive could impact this plan.
11 > The Police Department is flat with staffing levels comparable to last year.
12 > Employee shuttle and bus services are held flat and will be part of the larger regional transportation discussion moving forward if the transportation ballot initiative passes in the upcoming election.
13 > The gondola budget was flat, though we are working with the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association to potentially add between nine and 12 cabins on the mainline, increase maximum speed where possible, and move the bike racks from the doors to the back of the cabins where structurally possible.
14 > Town Council approved Mountain Village’s cost share of a Forest Service ranger to help manage regional trails due to current and expected heavy trail use.
15 > Town Council reviewed a list of capital expenditures including backup power generation for Town Hall, implementation of the wayfinding project, and several others.
16 > Town Council agreed on a public process to develop plans for the Meadows Park if the public-private partnership to develop up to 45 workforce housing units on the neighboring lots goes through.
17 > The Planning and Development Services Department showed a flat budget versus last year, which was a peak year. It may be difficult to hold to a flat budget as town senses a lot of projects in the pipeline.
18 > Finally, we considered a series of requests for community grants including Juvenile Diversion, EcoAction Partners, San Miguel Resource Center, Tri-County Health Network and others. Most received a positive reaction though more financial information and data was requested in some cases.
Overall, it was a rigorous, long day. The public and Town Council will have several more meetings to review the 2017 budget as it firms up.
This week Town Council will return to its regularly scheduled meeting with another full agenda with several important items.
October 20 Agenda Highlights
1 > Staff with present the first draft of the schematic wayfinding project design.
2 > Town Council will conditionally appoint directors to the yet-to-be-approved San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) so if this ballot initiative passes in November, the committee can get to work immediately.
3 > Town Council will consider a Colorado Communities for Climate Action policy statement for purposes of approval.
4 > The usual array of staff and Council updates along with routine land use matters are part of the October 22 agenda.
5 > Finally, Town Council will consider a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County regarding the hire of an owners representative relating to the town’s work across the three governments on workforce housing opportunities.
As always, please join us if you can for this Thursday’s Town Council meeting and/or share you thoughts in advance.
Mountain Village Mayor