Breck officials optimistic about sales for summer |

Breck officials optimistic about sales for summer

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge merchants and town officials are cautiously optimistic about what summer might bring in terms of revenue – especially after months of less-than-stellar sales.

According to Town Manager Tim Gagen, tax revenues for April were down slightly.

“Everyone expected it; it wasn’t a big surprise,” he said. “But everyone’s feeling a little more optimistic about coming into the summer months.”

The war in Iraq, the still-soft economy and fears of flying kept tourists away despite great early- and late-season snowfall. Restaurant and bar sales were good, Gagen said, but retail and lodging were down. Overall, revenue generated in town was down 6 percent to 7 percent this season when compared to last year.

Regardless, town officials are setting aside money and making plans to build a new police facility and assist Breckenridge Ski Resort with funding for a gondola it plans to build in the Watson Parking Lot in town.

They are talking with three in-town landowners about a new police department site. Gagen, who declined to say where those sites are, said they were selected based on their proximity to downtown and other town offices, parking availability and exposure to the public.

The town needs a new station because officers are working in much smaller-than-average quarters. Town leaders toured the new police station in Vail, noting that Breckenridge’s 2,000-square-foot facility paled in comparison to Vail’s 30,000-square-foot station.

Town council members decided it would be much more feasible – and less expensive – to build a new structure rather than renovate the existing police department or another building.

Town officials also have an agreement with the ski area to help pay for a gondola to run from Watson Lot in town, up Shock Hill, over the Cucumber Creek wetlands and to the Peaks 7 and 8 developments. The town council agreed to chip in on the project based on studies that show it will reduce traffic on Ski Hill Road. That, in turn, will help reduce pollution and enhance visitors’ experiences.

Of the $14 million the town has in its so-called “lockbox,” $2.5 million has not been designated for any particular project, Gagen said. The town has enough in its coffers to pay for all existing debt, three months of operating costs and to cover up to 25 percent of the golf course bonds.

Originally, estimates indicated that revenue generated at the golf course would pay off the new bonds issued when the course expanded to 27 holes. But in light of a soft economy and increasing competition, town officials want to make sure that debt can be paid off.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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