Snowmass braces for budget cuts, drop in revenues |

Snowmass braces for budget cuts, drop in revenues

Madeleine Osberger
Snowmass, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colorado ” The occupancy forecast in Snowmass Village for June 2009 looks more optimistic than June 2008, and reduced fuel prices this year have resulted in an unanticipated $400,000 savings for the town, but the picture isn’t all rosy.

And that includes the outlook for the resort’s flower beds.

Real estate transfer tax collections so far this year are off by more than 80 percent, compared to 2008. And, while the first month of summer looks good in terms of group business, occupancy in July and August remain great unknowns.

That’s why the Town of Snowmass Village is planning for a 30 percent drop in town sales tax collections.

Town Manager Russell Forrest said this week he will suggest employee salaries be frozen. “If there’s some significant turnaround, we could revisit this before the end of the year,” he added.

The town’s transportation department will do its part in the budget crunch by not replacing older vehicles for at least the next six months.

“This isn’t sustainable over a long period, but it’s a bullet we have to take this year,” Forrest said.

Maintenance of Benedict Park, a beautiful but underused spot of greenery located below the Snowmass Mall, will also be left to languish this summer. According to Public Works Director Hunt Walker, trail maintenance and flower planting in the resort will be cut back from their one-time budget of $824,000. Walker said that baseline was “too much” and even if the economy improves, “I would never recommend going back to that level.”

Citizen Robin Riggs, a member of the newly formed town environmental advisory board, said she agrees with that decision.

“For years I’ve been saying we could plant more native plants. We don’t need to be planting hollyhocks,” Riggs said.

Operational subsidies to the Snowmass Recreation Center, which are funded through real estate transfer tax revenues, could be subject to future cutting, as well.

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