Mayor John Warner: Things in Breckenridge looking up
As the mayor of Breckenridge I thought it would be helpful for the residents of Summit County to have a “face” put on our various municipalities and the Summit County Government. The idea being that each month a mayor, manager or Summit County commissioner would write a column for the Summit Daily News with topical information we think would be of interest to our community. So I pitched the idea at our mayors, managers and commissioners meeting in November, and here I am getting what I wished for.
There are many topics I could choose from, but I’d like to begin with a discussion of the Town of Breckenridge (TOB) 2011 budget which was just approved last month. The TOB is budgeting for a 1 percent increase in tax revenues for 2011. This modest increase comes after two years of budgeting for no increase in tax revenues and several permanent reductions in TOB expenditures. In fact, the TOB has reduced spending permanently by $1.3 million over the past two years. Additionally, we have temporarily cut back spending by an additional $700,000 through a hiring freeze, a freeze in wages and benefits, and a reduction in non-essential services such as summer bus service on selected routes. Essentially, what we as a small town government are trying to do is “reset” our revenue and expense budget to 2006 levels. This means a reduction in service at some level as well as a reduction in hours of operation at some of our town amenities like the ice arena and recreation center. Interestingly, these reductions in expenditures of tax dollars in 2009 and 2010 and a flat revenue picture has allowed the TOB to operate in the black with surplus dollars added to the General Fund in 2008, 2009, and 2010. I credit our town staff, led by town manager Tim Gagen, with attaining this objective of a fiscally responsible outcome.
I’d like to thank the voters of Breckenridge for the recent success of the 1 percent Accommodation Tax increase. This tax, when enacted on January 1, will affect all monies paid to our lodging community. This will result in an additional $750,000 for the marketing of Breckenridge to our potential destination guests. This money and a new five-year TOB pledge will bring the marketing fund to well over $2 million per year. This successful campaign could not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of Mike Dudick, who convinced our community of the benefits of increasing our marketing dollars more than two-fold. Our belief is that this new commitment to a sustainable revenue stream for marketing to our destination market will serve our community well.
Speaking of sustainability, I’d like to thank the town staff and the 200+ citizens who participated in our summer long effort – Sustainable Breck. Three members of town council and staff continue to meet regularly to digest what was learned this summer and to put together a sustainability implementation plan for the next 20 years and beyond. This will include energy conservation, reducing our carbon footprint, planning considerations, managing transportation issues, wildlife issues, water use and storage, etc.
Lastly, I’d like to speak to what will be an incredible event coming to Breckenridge on August 27, 2011, The Quizno’s Pro Challenge. This will be a premiere road biking event beginning in Steamboat Springs and finishing on Main Street Breckenridge. Ours will be the sixth of a seven-day stage race involving 120 of the best riders cycling has to offer. Led by Lucy Kay and Mike Schilling, the Breckenridge QPC Committee deserves our thanks in bringing this event to Breckenridge on a late summer Saturday afternoon.
All in all, I feel good about the coming year for the Town of Breckenridge. The original locomotive Engine #9 is coming home to Breckenridge soon, we have 11 truly affordable homes opening their doors in January with 30 more coming on line in the near future. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me.
John G. Warner is Town of Breckenridge Mayor.
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