SILVERTHORNE - During a year when many American consumers and businesses struggled with debt, the Town of Silverthorne bucked the trend.In 2009, the town repaid all its outstanding debts four years early, even amid belt-tightening in expenditures. Being debt-free ahead of schedule saved the town $500,000 in interest payments on bonds that built the Silverthorne Pavilion and improvements to Blue River Parkway.2009's flagging economy still forced town officials to make multiple rounds of budget cuts, ultimatey removing about $1 million in expenses from the general fund. Final numbers aren't in yet, but the town projects 2009 general fund revenues to total about $8.4 million. The town laid off one employee, the building official, since building activity deflated to about 20 percent of normal. Personnel attrition allowed for additional savings of about $110,000.Town revenue, heavily dependent on sales tax, dropped to 2006 levels last year. But town officials are cautiously optimistic about 2010."People are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Ryan Hyland, assistant to the town manager.Silverthorne has budgeted $8.9 million in general fund expenditures for 2010.
On the development front, 2009 saw two major proposals that have the potential to increase town revenue in the future and boost Silverthorne's status as a regional home-improvement retail destination. Both Home Depot and Lowe's have plans drawn up for review by the planning staff, planning commission and town council.Town officials hope the development process for all prospective projects will be smoother and faster than in the past. In 2009, the council approved a pared-down development code, removing a few early bureaucratic hoops."We still require developers to hold community meetings, and we've kept the checks and balances in place," said town manager Kevin Batchelder. "But we've made it a more streamlined and efficient process."
The town took steps in 2009 to save not only money, but also energy, water and paper. A comprehensive energy audit of town facilities identified potential efficiency and conservation improvements. During the next five years, officials will implement the measures, including more efficient lighting at town hall and the Silverthorne Recreation Center.The energy conservation projects planned for 2010 will reduce the town's greenhouse gas emissions by about 463,000 pounds. The Rec Center lighting alone will cut electricity use by 142,850 kilowatt-hours, with annual cost savings of about $9,000. The project should pay for itself within eight years or less, according to Hyland.Each home and business in Silverthorne received a new "sending unit" for its water meter, enabling daily transmissions of water usage data directly to the town. The old system took readings once a month. The new technology allows town officials to detect leaks more quickly - especially helpful in second homes which may be unoccupied for months at a time.The town switched its paper recreation brochures and town newsletters to electronic formats, saving trees as well as printing and postage costs. More than 500 Silverthorne residents have signed up to receive the newsletters via e-mail.
Cyclists and pedestrians benefited from Silverthorne's newest landmark: the Tammy Jamieson Memorial Bridge, which spans the Blue River about a mile south of North Pond Park. The 221-foot bridge provides a critical link in the Blue River Trail, allowing uninterrupted bicycle and foot travel between Silverthorne Elementary School and the Dillon Dam, free from the traffic on Highway 9.In a nod to hikers, the town worked with the Forest Service and Angler Mountain Ranch to create the Angler Mountain Trail. The 2.5-mile trail provides access to the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness from a trailhead off Bald Eagle Road.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or email@example.com.
• New master plan and playground for Rainbow Park• New Blue River Festival• Town council member and mayor elections in April• Energy conservation and efficiency upgrades• Town to host U.S. Telemark World Cup• Old Dillon Reservoir expansion• Rec center upgrades and renovations in pool & locker areas• Land-use review for proposed Home Depot and Lowe's stores• Development and passage of 2011-2012 biennial town budget