Gypsum eyes stunted sales tax growth for 2016 budget
GYPSUM — Local residents are definitely enjoying the fact that they are paying less at the pump, but a decrease in fuel prices have affected the town of Gypsum’s sales tax receipts for 2015.
Not that the folks at Gypsum Town Hall are complaining, really. When aviators purchase fuel at the Eagle County Regional Airport, they pay a sales tax to the town. When fuel costs less, they pay less tax.
“That’s a pretty big chunk of change for us in Gypsum,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll. “While it’s good for you and I at the pump, it does affect our budget.”
So while the town is working out its spending plan for 2016, it is projecting a conservative 3 percent increase in sales tax for next year. That will translate into $4.5 million in sale tax revenues for 2016.
With that money in hand, the top capital project Gypsum will tackle next year is at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course.
“The biggest project we are looking at is overhauling the old and dilapidated irrigation system at the golf course,” Shroll said.
That project won’t come cheep. Early estimates indicate it will cost about $1.8 million.
“That’s a tough pill to swallow,” Shroll said. “We are looking at funding options for that work.”
Beyond the immediate golf course needs, next year’s Gypsum budget sets aside $450,000 for roundabout designs at the intersections of Valley Road and U.S. Highway 6, Eagle Valley High School and Highway 6 and at Cooley Mesa Road and Valley Road. But the future of actual roundabout construction at those sites will depend on the town’s deal with the state of Colorado.
The towns of Eagle and Gypsum are working with the Colorado Department of Transportation on a process called devolution, which will transfer ownership and maintenance responsibilities for Highway 6 as it runs through and between the communities to the towns. The state will pay the towns $12.1 million, which is intended to cover maintenance costs along the roadway for the next 20 years. When the state highway shifts over to municipal ownership, Shroll noted the process for roundabout engineering and construction should be simplified. That’s why the town is putting a planning place marker in its 2016 budget.
“We may postpone that project until 2017,” he noted.
Real Estate rebound
Like the rest of the county, Gypsum saw a rebound in real estate in 2015. The town is anticipating $650,000 in real estate transfer tax receipts this year, compared to $470,000 in 2014. Additionally, the town saw 50 new housing starts this year.
“Building is staying strong but we are not yet to the pre-recession levels,” Shroll said.
With revenues on the uptick, Shroll noted the Gypsum Town Council is considering the addition of a staff position dedicated to economic development.
“We want to have someone with the time to track down leads for the town,” he said.
The town will also continue its economic development grant program, which pays money directly to businesses that apply and are selected. The town has earmarked $60,000 for that effort next year.
Additionally, the town’s 2016 budget includes an additional $15,000 donation for the Castle Peak Senior Care Center under construction in Eagle, $50,000 for construction of four pickleball courts at the Cotton Ranch area and $15,000 for construction of a BMX track at the IK Bar site. The town has also included a $15,000 expenditure for improvements at the Eagle Valley High School baseball field, pending approval of an intergovernmental agreement with Eagle County Schools.
And finally, on the recreation front, Gypsum plans to spend approximately $240,000 on its Gypsum Daze celebration. There is no word yet on the headliner.
Wolves were a problem for ranchers when Kip Gates’ great-great-grandfather homesteaded in the area. He doesn’t want the problem to return.