Breckenridge Town Council proposes $7.7 million for 2014 capital spending
Ryan Summerlin October 31, 2013
The Breckenridge Town Council has minted plans for proposed projects in 2014.
At the fall budget retreat on Tuesday, the council tentatively agreed to $7.7 million in capital spending for the upcoming year. The proposed budget still has to be approved at an upcoming town council meeting in November.
“Today is all about balance moving forward,” Mayor John Warner said.
Proposed capital spending
For 2013, the budget had a $6.7 million allowance for spending on mostly construction and maintenance projects. The funding mainly comes via a transfer from the excise fund. That money comes mostly from sales tax.
The largest amount of proposed capital spending totals $1.9 million for renovations to Abby Hall.
At the Oct. 22 town council meeting, Shannon Smith of the engineering department proposed two options to the council. This funding would cover the “fully programmed option,” which includes moving the dance studio and kitchen to the second floor. Councilman Ben Brewer said, “It’s a lot of money, but it’s right in the center of our town. It’s the heart and soul.”
The town is budgeting $1,180,000 for renovations to the Backstage Theatre building. Brewer said the theater is one of the only organizations in town with a track record to justify this kind of spending. Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe worried that extensive changes would make the theater unrecognizable. “It won’t be like the Backstage Theatre anymore,” she said. The renovations include new seating for the theater.
The town is also budgeting $1 million for a section of new median from Valley Brook to the existing roundabout on the north end.
“Medians don’t really make us any money; all it does it cost money, but it’s one of those balancing acts,” Warner said.
The proposed plan includes landscaping and poles with hanging baskets or unique banners to help emphasize the town brand and welcome people to town.
In order to bring all roads in town up to a Level 6, or “good,” quality, the town offered $750,000 in resurfacing spending as well as an extra $100,000 for other repairs. Level 6 shows slight raveling — loss of lines — and traffic wear. Fewer than 10 percent of the town’s roads are not at a good or very good level.
Another large budget item is $640,000 for suggested skate park updates. In September, representatives and skaters from the community asked town council to fund major renovations and expansions to the skate park to make it more functional and a bigger attraction. Collin Hyon, a fifth-grade skater, said at the meeting that having a covered skate park would mean more year-round use. The council asked the skating community to raise the funds for a shade structure — $12,000.
“We’ve never had that many people come in and tell us want something,” Brewer said.
Other presented capital spending includes: $110,000 for heated sidewalks, $800,000 for completion of Main Street and Riverwalk Center projects, $250,000 for a turf field, $260,000 for the new Main Street park and $100,000 for a study on how to best use the F-lot, Tiger/Dredge area. The remaining $600,000 in spending is a transfer to the marketing fund.
and affordable housing funds
The Breckenridge Resort Chamber, or GoBreck, is in the process of dissolving its current board of directors as part of a restructure of the organization. At the budget meeting, the town council discussed giving out some marketing funds contingent on the board restructuring in November.
The BRC requested $180,000 to pay for the dues businesses would no longer be paying under the restructure. The chamber also requested $500,000 and what’s normally transferred from the excise fund.
Wolfe shared concerns that only 21 percent of the marketing spend is making it to the target markets.
“We’re all scrambling for that same piece of the pie,” she said. “The environment around us is changing and only having 21 percent of our investment into outlying markets is alarming.”
Other marketing fund money goes into events such as Oktoberfest. The council proposed the new marketing request be based on success and growth, not just a stagnant number every year. The marketing fund budget for 2013 was $2.5 million.
When discussing affordable housing, the town council focused on the proposed Pence Miller project and voiced concerns about the high subsidies taxpayers would have to pay.
Whether it’s $4 million or $5 million, “there’s no point if we don’t want to spend that kind of money for 80 units,” Councilman Mike Dudick said. “Regardless of if we like the height or not, those are the subsidies.”
McAtamney said she didn’t know if she “could stomach” the $5 million in subsidies for the project as well as the height. The council proposed asking the builders to look into whether surface parking — which would reduce the number of units — would result in lower subsidies. Each unit would currently cost $65,000.
“We want people who are working in our community to be living here,” Warner said.
Child care and marijuana funds
The child care scholarships are no longer funded under the affordable housing fund, and will have their own fund along with a new marijuana fund.
Breckenridge has two ballot initiatives in November on the issues, and if those new taxes pass, that money would go into these funds.
The council proposed transferring $2.6 million out of the existing child care fund in order to help pay for part of the capital expenses, leaving enough money for one year of scholarship funding in case the ballot initiative doesn’t pass. The marijuana fund allows for one dedicated police officer and other costs of managing long-term issues like legal fees.
“This budget is in better shape starting off than ones I’ve looked at over the last 12 years or so,” town manager Tim Gagen said.
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