| AspenTimes.com

Roaring Fork Valley’s state representatives say they can put aside party differences

State representatives from the Roaring Fork Valley claimed at a town hall meeting in Basalt last week that they are proof it’s possible to accomplish bipartisan governance in an era of tribalism.

Rep. Julie McCluskie and Rep. Dylan Roberts, both Democrats, invited Rep. Perry Will, a Republican, to attend their town hall gathering. McCluskie’s district includes Pitkin County while Roberts’ district includes Eagle County. Will is the former area wildlife manager for the Roaring Fork Valley who was appointed to a state representative seat late in the session. His district includes Garfield County.

In brief introductory comments, Roberts claimed legislators put aside party differences in the vast majority of issues they debated. Roughly 400 bills were introduced during the four-month legislative session.

“A good, bipartisan town hall here, too,” Roberts said.

Will credited Roberts and McCluskie with helping him get acquainted with policies and procedures as a new representative, despite their party differences.

Roberts and Will were the House sponsors of a bill that will generate money for the Housing Development Grant Fund. The intent is to make funds available to expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado, particularly in rural and mountain areas.

Roberts and McCluskie visited the Basalt Vista affordable housing project — a partnership between multiple entities in the Roaring Fork Valley — during their visit in Basalt. They labeled it an impressive model on how to accomplish affordable housing.

McCluskie said bipartisanship also was vital to proposing a way to generate much-needed funding for statewide transportation improvements.

She was one of the sponsors of House Bill 1257, which had bipartisan support to seek voter approval in November for transit and education funding. The state government must refund revenues that exceed annual limits by the Taxpayer Bills of Rights, also known as TABOR.

The state will ask voters if it can retain and spent the state revenues in excess of the limits. It doesn’t authorize a tax increase. It allows the state to retain revenue created by growth.

If voters approve that measure, companion legislation earmarks one-third of new funds for K-12 public education, one-third for higher education and one-third for transportation needs.

Colorado voters rejected two proposals to raise taxes for transit solutions in November.

The legislators also said progress was made on health care issues through multiple bills. The issue will remain an area of concern next year.


Artist Sanford Biggers to open 2019 Anderson Ranch summer series

Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s annual Summer Series will feature acclaimed artists Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave and Taryn Simon among others this summer. The Summer Series also will feature Extraordinary Leadership Award Honoree Doug Casebeer in conversation with Brad Miller and Service to the Arts Award Honoree Sarah Arison in conversation with Anne Pasternak.

The nonprofit announced its full lineup last week.

“These amazing talents enjoy coming to the Ranch to engage in conversation with our community because they believe in our mission to enrich lives through art, inspiration and community,” Anderson Ranch president and CEO Peter Waanders said in an announcement. “They love coming to this special place because it is both meaningful and fun. We are excited to host them. It’s going to be a great summer.”

Reservations are required. All events take place in Schermer Meeting Hall on Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s campus. For reservations, visit andersonranch.org. Online registration opens to the general public on Wednesday, May 29.

The full lineup:

July 3, 12:30 p.m.: Sanford Biggers in conversation with Helen Molesworth

July 11, 12:30 p.m.: Paul McCarthy

July 16, 5 p.m.: Extraordinary Leadership Honoree Doug Casebeer in conversation with Brad Miller

July 17, 12:30 p.m.: International Artist Honoree Nick Cave

July 18, 12:30 p.m.: Service to the Arts Honoree Sarah Arison in conversation with Anne Pasternak

July 25, 12:30 p.m.: Taryn Simon in conversation with Kate Fowle

Aug. 1, 12:30 p.m.: Beth Rudin DeWoody in conversation with Maynard Monrow

Aug. 8, 12:30 p.m.: Elliott Hundley

Aug.15, 12:30 p.m.: Lari Pittman

Snowmass Village council shines light on ‘20 by 20’ goal, OK’s nearly $1M for solar project

After a decade in the making, Snowmass Village Town Council approved nearly $1 million Monday night to install solar power at four of the town’s facilities.

And with a few more grants and rebates lined up, the town likely won’t need all of that allocation. The council unanimously approved moving forward and spending $992,886 from the Community Enhancement Funds for the project.

In Snowmass’ sustainability plan, which was adopted in 2009 and updated in 2015, the town committed to reduce its carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020.

Currently, the town has secured $360,000 in grants and rebates toward the solar project, Assistant City Manager Travis Elliott told the council. That money will help cut off nearly six years on the total payback.

“To Travis’ credit, we are going from about $900,000 to $600,000 for the town to contribute,” City Manager Clint Kinney told the council.

The total project will reduce total community-wide emissions by 0.3% and contribute 6.3% of the remaining reductions necessary to achieve the town’s emissions “20 by 20” goal, according to a memo from the town’s Financial Advisory Board.

The project will put solar panels on Town Hall, the public works building, Town Park Station and the recreation center by the end of the year. The Mountain View II housing complex was removed from the project.

After the request for proposals was put out in early March, a committee selected Carbondale-based Sunsense Solar from the four bids it received. Sunsense’s bid came in at $974,085. The goal is for construction to start this summer, Elliott said.

The fifth project is the installation of a hydro-turbine in an existing vault across Brush Creek Road from Town Hall to generate electricity. It’s budgeted for $96,000 and should be installed this year, Elliott said.

There are a few changes from the previous plans, and one of the adjustments is trying to lessen the number of pole/ground panels and put more on top of buildings.

All the panels previously planned as pole-mounted at the rec center will instead be mounted on top of the main building and the gym. The ones on the main building will replace the current thermal panels. That will save money, Elliott said, because the brackets can be reused.

“The bulk of that project will be on the roof of the gym,” Elliott said.

He said the thinking is to lessen the number of ground mounts and go to roof-top mounts. They are looking at options to move the ground mounts planned near the public works building to its roof.

One grant Elliott secured is for $200,000 from the state’s Department of Local Affairs. Another grant is from the Roaring Fork Valley’s Community Office for Resource Efficiency for $110,000.

“These projects set an example for residents, businesses and visitors that the town is taking action,” CORE executive director Mona Newton wrote to Snowmass council.

The 25-year net present value has increased from a negative $40,000 to a positive $220,000, which is mainly because of grants and rebates town staff have secured in the past few weeks, according to an updated cost-benefit analysis. The total payback time has been reduced from 22 years to about 16 years, Elliott told the council.

Councilman Bob Sirkus was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

Councilman Bill Madsen said he would like the town to continue to consider the micro-hydro turbines and “look for more places we can do this.”

“This is not the end. It just gets it going,” McKinney said, “and we can look for other areas to explore in the future.”