Eagle residents: here’s how your local tax dollars will be spent next year | VailDaily.com

Eagle residents: here’s how your local tax dollars will be spent next year

Eagle Town Council hears presentation on first draft of 2022 budget, five-year capital improvement plan from town staff

From left to right: Eagle Town Council members Ellen Bodenhemier, Mikel “Pappy” Kerst and Mayor Scott Turnipseed listen to a presentation during a Town Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12.
Kelli Duncan/Vail Daily

A presentation of the first draft of the town of Eagle’s 2022 budget shows strong signs of economic recovery after a difficult 18 months but reveals the need to increase human resources to support the town’s many ambitious projects.

Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter gave a presentation to the Eagle Town Council on Tuesday evening that gave an overview of the first drafts of the town’s budget and five-year capital improvement plan.

“I think it’s a really good budget,” Reitter said. “I will tell you that we have more projects than people … we just can’t get the stuff done that we need to get done without new positions.”

“…We’re at the point where things could fall through the cracks,” she said. “This budget is a huge leap forward as far as organizational capacity.”

Improving organizational capacity will “check a lot of boxes” when it comes to the town’s strategic goals to improve customer service and community engagement, Town Council member Ellen Bodenhemier said.

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The budget allocates resources to hire eight new full-time employees in the coming year, bringing town staff from 66 to 74 employees, according to a budget report prepared by town staff.

New positions created in the 2022 budget include a school resource officer, a detective, three public works employees, an “administrative technician” for the finance and human resources department, a communications and marketing specialist and an economic development specialist.

As the town ramps up efforts to reach its new goal of having net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, it will likely need to hire a sustainability coordinator as well, but that position was not included in the 2022 budget, Reitter said.

As part of Tuesday’s discussion, Reitter asked the Town Council to consider whether they would like to add $15,000 into the budget to develop sustainable building codes as part of this new effort.

After taking a significant dive during the first year of the pandemic, the town’s sales tax revenue is up 18% this year, according to the budget report.

Some sales tax revenue will go toward capital improvements, but it will also be used to strengthen the town’s general fund. Next year, the general fund will increase by $462,985 over 2021.

Town staff expect to see an increase in revenue from licenses and permits as well, given that the Town Council has approved several new developments set to break ground in 2022.

Total revenue allocated to the town’s general fund amounts to $10,173,525, a 5% increase over last year.

“The Town weathered an unpredictable environment and has emerged strongly compared to 2020 and 2021,” the report states. “In 2022, the Town is in a great position and will transition from a pandemic recovery to a proactive business-friendly economic environment.”

In 2022, the town will continue to invest in economic development to “ensure long-term financial stability,” according to the report. These kinds of projects include constructing broadband-related infrastructure, forming a Downtown Development Authority to revitalize the downtown area and investing heavily in affordable housing and outdoor recreation.

When Reitter assumed her position as the town manager just under four years ago, she began developing a five-year capital improvement plan to make the town’s budget more forward-looking rather than just planning capital improvements on a year-to-year basis.

This is crucial for a town experiencing such rapid growth, as it enables town staff and the Town Council to get ahead of the capital improvements needed to keep up, Reitter said Tuesday.

The town’s five-year capital improvement plan will invest a total of $80.6 million in improvements for the town, $10.7 million of which is planned for 2022. The bulk of expenditures are currently anticipated in 2024 with $44.1 million slated for the year.

The main reason for this is that the bulk of improvements laid out in the Grand Avenue Corridor Plan are set to take place in 2024, accounting for more than half of the $44.1 million.

All documents presented in Tuesday’s meeting represent first drafts of various plans and are subject to change as town staff work through budgetary proceedings in the coming weeks and months.

The town’s largest capital expenditures planned for next year are less than thrilling, with about $6.1 million dedicated to improvements to water-related infrastructure.

The town also laid out a five-year capital improvement plan for improvements associated with the Eagle River Water Park.

There are only two expenditures currently slated for 2022 — $80,000 toward “RapidBlocs” for the River Park and $100,000 in playground equipment for the Brush Creek Park. RapidBlocs are moveable blocks used to create obstacles in artificial whitewater courses.

Other uses of sales tax revenue listed along with the River Park plan include a $500,000 investment in the local skateboard park, $300,000 in improvements to Terrace Park, $45,000 for local dog parks and $40,000 for a “paved recreation path along Brush Creek Road,” according to the plan.

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