As Eagle hones in on its final numbers for the 2013 budget, Tuesday night a number of community representatives made appeals for town dollars.
Eagle is eying a $4.6 million operating budget next year - which is down approximately $200,000 from its 2012 spending plan. The biggest impact was the decision from the town of Gypsum to cease the Costco revenue sharing agreement in 2013. The agreement dates back six years and splits unencumbered sales tax revenues from the Costco retail block. In 2012, Eagle received approximately $385,000 from the Costco revenue sharing agreement.
With that revenue source now projected to be 0 for 2013, Eagle's operating fund revenues over expenses is projected to drop from $377,000 in 2012 to just $24,000 in 2013. However, Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell has noted that the town has built a healthy fund balance over the past few years, which will help Eagle absorb the revenue share loss. In 2011, the fund balance was $1 million. This year it is projected at $962,000 and in 2013, it is projected at $782,000.
As the town absorbs the revenue share loss, the 2013 budget anticipates no employee layoffs and no wage increases. But the 2013 spending plan also reflects a large capital project - the Eby Creek Road improvements. Eagle has been stockpiling money for this project for years and will contribute $3 million toward the $17 million roadway improvement plan that includes construction of four roundabouts, improvements to the existing roundabouts, a new pedestrian bridge over Interstate 70 and various landscaping and sidewalk improvements. Construction is slated to begin this summer and completion is scheduled for 2014.
With the big budget decisions finalized previously, Tuesday night was community request night and the public hearing for the overall budget. Four local representatives made appeals for town funding in 2012.
John Bronn of the Eagle County Historical Society requested $3,000 for a historic building identification program. Bronn said the local history group would like to place markers on Eagle buildings that would give a brief synopsis of their origins and uses over time. "We think the signs are attractive enough to be representative of our town," said Bronn. "We think it would serve as a tourist attraction."
Bronn is forming an advisory committee to identify buildings for the project and when completed, the inventory will include about 30 properties. After discussion the board agreed to fund the program.
Holli Snyder of NRC Broadcasting was also successful with her request for $2,500 for the Free Family Fun Fair at the Eagle River Center. Snyder noted the winter event has been presented since 2007 and brings in an estimated 25,000 people from all over the valley.
The Vail Valley Partnership and the Eagle Air Alliance each received $5,000 donations from the town - approximately half of what the VVP requested and $2,500 less than the EAA request.
Finally, the Walking Mountains Science Center received a $6,000 donation for programs it presents in Eagle schools.
No one offered comment during the public hearing for the 2013 budget and the town will formally adopt the spending plan at its Tuesday, Dec. 11, meeting.
Eagle Town Board member Scott Turnipseed made good on his promise to design a new ECO bus shelter at Eagle Town Park and presented his concept to fellow board members Tuesday night.
Turnipseed, a professional architect, said the plan reflects a 10-foot by 16-foot structure that would be located east of the Centennial Stage.
"What we tried to do is bring the elements of the band shell and the bathroom building into the bus shelter," he said. "The reason for the presentation tonight is to hear from the board members to learn if they are in favor of the bus shelter and the design."
In response, the board voiced support for both. But before construction can start, there are a number of issues yet to be resolved. The first is price.
Ideally the price for the shelter will not exceed $30,000. Also ideally, ECO Transit will be willing to partner with the town to share that cost.
Town Board member Joe Knabel, who works as a construction estimator, agreed to volunteer his services to determine if the shelter will fit the parameters. Knabel also serves as the town's representative to ECO Transit and he will present the initial design to the agency to gauge support for the plan.
Resident Donna Spinelli offered a presentation about the Colorado Main Street Program.
The program seeks "to revitalize traditional downtown districts within the context of historic preservation and uses an approach that advocates a return to community self reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of central business districts based on their traditional assets of unique architecture, personal service, local ownership and sense of community."
Currently there are 13 cities and towns participating in the program. Spinelli noted that she is not asking Eagle to commit to the program at this point but sought a general agreement from the board to explore the option. The town board agreed.
The town board unanimously approved the liquor license renewal for the Brush Creek Saloon Tuesday night.
Eagle Police officer Ryan Toy noted during 2012 there have been 21 incidents related to the bar operation, which is actually fewer than previous years.
"Things are looking better. They are still not what I would consider optimal. They are the highest call volume liquor license facility in town," said Toy.
Board members noted that the saloon is the only operation in town that remains open until 2 a.m., and because of that it is more likely to see additional police calls.
"The number of contacts is not necessarily a bad thing," said Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands. "You want them to be calling the police before there is even a hint of trouble."