Avon approves 2023 budget, focuses on roads and public works projects | VailDaily.com

Avon approves 2023 budget, focuses on roads and public works projects

Council budgets conservatively but moves forward on large capital improvement projects

Capital improvement projects in Avon account for nearly a third of total proposed expenditures in 2023, driven by a $9 million investment in roads and streets.
Town of Avon/Courtesy photo

The Avon Town Council unanimously approved the final draft of its 2023 budget on Tuesday, Dec. 13, which shows a heightened focus on infrastructure and public works projects in the new year.

Total revenues are projected to remain flat at $40.3 million, while total expenditures are rising by over $12 million, from $46.6 million in 2022 to $59 million in 2023. This increase is primarily attributed to capital improvement expenditures, which are budgeted for $14.5 million this year, compared to $8.8 million in 2023. The jump is driven by a nearly $9 million investment in roads and streets.

Total operating expenditures are also up by just under $4 million, from $20.8 million to $24.4 million. Around $1.5 million of that increase is also related to infrastructure, allocated for the public works department. General government and finance has increased by about $1 million and recreation is up by $500,000.

“The 2023 operational budget reflects an increase in full-time staff wages, part-time staff wages, computer services for recreation management software, professional development, fitness equipment, updated facility equipment and general program supplies,” said finance director Scott Wright in the budget summary.

General property taxes will remain the same as last year at 8.956 mills, while the Avon General Improvement District, which is the footprint of The Ascent Residences at the entrance of Beaver Creek, will see an increase of 0.454 mills. 

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Road safety and repairs

The most expensive item on the proposed 2023 capital improvement budget is $4.3 million allocated for the U.S. Highway 6 Safety and Mobility Improvements Project, which addresses a need for safe pedestrian crossings. 

Avon has received $3 million in grant money from the Colorado Department of Transportation for the project and plans to divide up the remaining $1.2 million between the town and Eagle County if it can’t find additional grant money to close the gap.

“There are four pairs of ECO Transit bus stops on US 6 between West Beaver Creek Blvd and Post Blvd without pedestrian crossings,” the town said in a recent press release about the project. “The two-mile stretch of US 6 is home to numerous high-density housing complexes. This regional project will improve and promote safety for transit users and enhance pedestrian mobility.”

The project consists of three crosswalks and one roundabout, which accounts for $3.4 million of the total cost. The Colorado Department of Transportation requires that a roundabout be built in order to reduce the speed of oncoming traffic before crosswalks can be put in, which dramatically increases the price and scope of the project.

The US Highway 6 Safety and Mobility Improvements Project consists of three pedestrian crosswalks and one roundabout.
Town of Avon/Courtesy photo

While the price tag was jarring for Town Council members, all agreed that the crosswalks are needed for safety and were in favor of moving forward with the project.

“We’ve lost several lives along this stretch of highway here … what is the cost of a life?” said Council member Chico Thuon. “If you don’t get it done now, it’s going to cost $6 million two years from now, or $7 million. We’ve got to figure out how to get this done.”

The town is hosting an open house about the project on Thursday, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Avon Town Hall to share its plans with the public. For more information, contact Public Works Director Eva Wilson at ewilson@avon.org.

There is an additional $4.3 million for annual street maintenance and recreation trails, including maintenance of Fawcett Road, West Beaver Creek Boulevard from Highway 6 to Avon Elementary School, and the upper section of Buck Creek Road. Parts of Swift Gulch Road and Old Trail Road will be designed in 2023 and built in 2024.

The only large capital improvement expenditure outside of roads and streets is $2 million allocated for the construction of a new public restroom on the eastern side of Nottingham Park.

Recent decisions

The finalized 2023 budget received a few changes from its first draft. The council chose to add $88,900 to the budget to host a winter fireworks event in Avon using the fireworks originally scheduled for its Salute to the USA event on July 3. This event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Nottingham Park.

The council also chose to opt out of a fiber optic project related to Project THOR, a public broadband provider trying to bring improved broadband service to rural Colorado. During hearings on the topic, council members did not feel that the need for improved broadband was so urgent in Avon and will remain outside of the project for the coming year.

Another change was the expansion of a new Geographic Information Systems manager from a part-time to a full-time position, making it the fourth full-time position that the town is adding in 2023, along with a program supervisor and aquatics coordinator for the recreation center and a new building technician.

The finalized budget also includes an additional $600,000 in spending from the Community Housing Fund for the completion of the first six housing units on the Tract Y property in Wildridge. The full development plan would bring 52 units of deed-restricted housing to Avon for Eagle County employees.

Avon’s fund balances at the end of 2023 will be $24.1 million, just under $12 million less than what the town started with this January. The council is making the big purchases needed to get large capital projects out of the way before price tags get even steeper, but are otherwise budgeting conservatively to ensure the town is prepared to weather financial uncertainty in the coming years.

“The Town’s fund balances are projected to remain very healthy to support municipal operations in case of economic downturn and revenues and expenditures have been budgeted conservatively so that the Town’s financial picture remains solid and sustainable,” said town manager Eric Heil.

The 2023 adopted budget can be viewed on the Avon.org website under “Agendas & Minutes” and will be published under the “Budgets” tab shortly.

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