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November 20, 2012
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Council postpones vote on joint budget increases

Town Council voted Nov. 19 to table discussions of two resolutions related to the Elected Officials Transportation Committee's budget.

The first was a proposal to add $125,000 to the 2012 budget for design and engineering on the Aspen Airport Business Center pedestrian crossing. The second would have approved the committee's 2013 budget, including a request made by the city of Aspen for funds for a Rubey Park Transit Center improvement project.

The committee includes elected officials representing Snowmass, Aspen and Pitkin County.

In response to the resolution revising the 2012 budget, Councilwoman Markey Butler questioned why contractor was being allowed to go over budget.

"None of this money has been spent," said Brian Pettit, county public works director. "We haven't gone over ... but we've reached the end."

Some of the extra cost was unforeseen, Pettit said, and partly a result of doing public meetings about the project. He said if the extra funds are not provided by the EOTC and another funding source cannot be found, the project, which creates a safe place for pedestrians to cross Highway 82 at the Airport Business Center, will stop.

Pettit said he, the county and the contractor knew the project was over the budget of the original contract.

"There's a lot of issues around the EOTC that concern me," Butler said. "We all were not made aware ... There's a lot of issues around accountability here."

Mayor Bill Boineau said he thinks the pedestrian crossing is important, but he was not happy with the way the committee was handling the budget.

"Be aware when we ask for more public meetings ... someone's got to pay for that," he said. "I will support this tonight, but it is something I do not like seeing."

Councilman Jason Haber said he would not vote for it.

"I think 1,000 hours overage on a 2,000-hour contract is unreasonable," he said.

Haber said he contractor or the project manager should be held accountable. "I don't think this should fall to the EOTC," he said.

Pettit said the design and engineering were still within 10 percent of the total project's cost, which is not unreasonable by the standards for a project of this level.

The planning and design, with the additional and foreseen costs, would now cost $375,000 according to the revised budget.

"My math says it's 12 and a half percent, on a $3 million project," Haber said.

Pettit reconsidered and responded that Haber was correct.

With only three council members present, the resolution would have failed without a unanimous vote. Boineau moved to table the discussion so that that wouldn't happen yet, and the council voted unanimously to do that.

2013 budget discussion

The council tabled the vote on the second resolution in a similar fashion. The officials expressed concern with the way both were presented outside of a joint EOTC meeting. The city of Aspen decided at a work session Oct. 30 - after tabling the discussion during the EOTC's meeting Oct. 18 - to request $200,000 for the planning phase of the project, to come out of a lockbox reserved for the Entrance to Aspen project or the committee's capital pool.

Butler then raised another issue with the request: that Rubey Park was a crucial transit location in Aspen.

"I'm just struggling with the fact that we talked about it coming from the (Entrance to Aspen fund)," she said.

John Krueger, Aspen director of transportation, said he couldn't speak for the City Council but that Aspen officials thought the capital pool was more appropriate.

Pettit said Pitkin County officials approved it because the capital pool is set aside to do matching programs for grants.

"In order to be competitive for a grant, you need to show that the community desires (a project)," Krueger said. "They want 100 percent of the design funded by community money. ... We've got to get through the design process or demonstrate to them that we're in a design process."

The Snowmass officials raised many questions about the City Council's reasoning behind the request.

"We shouldn't be beating up on you, we should be beating up on our peers," Boineau said to Krueger.

Other items

The Town Council also removed a deed restriction on a resident's employee housing townhome, accepted the Federal Master Agreement for grant funding for transportation projects, and approved a request to combine platted and unplatted parcels into one lot on the Carriage Way Apartments property.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Nov 20, 2012 04:47PM Published Nov 20, 2012 04:44PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.