Aspen city expenses on the rise |

Aspen city expenses on the rise

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Aspen city government expenditures are increasing $1.6 million this year even though government officials have made drastic cuts to the budget in response to the recession.

A total of $4.3 million has been slashed from the 2009 budget thus far, which includes abandoning a new outdoor swimming pool and other capital improvements, as well as employee layoffs and pay cuts.

The Aspen City Council is set this month to approve $1,638,720 in new requests. The additional expenditures are part of the supplemental budget, which the council has to adopt.

The new requests were previously reviewed by the council, as well as capital expenditures that have gone beyond the two-year appropriation, said city finance director Don Taylor.

One of the larger appropriations ” $324,000 ” will go to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, or ACRA. The council authorized $200,000 for increased summer marketing and $124,500 to make up for a shortfall in revenue collected by the city from the 1 percent lodging tax, which funds the chamber.

“A lot of the general fund requests were related to ACRA, which in theory will create more revenue and help business,” Taylor said of the council’s decision.

Another major increase was the additional $65,000 given to the city’s special events department, of which $15,000 is to expand marketing efforts and $50,000 is to add three new events in Aspen this year.

Here are the city’s other increased expenditures that will be paid out of the general fund:

– The planning department is requesting $37,330 because more work must be done on the Aspen Area Community Plan. Pitkin County will reimburse the city for $33,333 of the expense.

– The engineering department is asking for $9,980 for survey work at the BMC West property annexation and the right of way on North Spring Street.

– The police department is requesting $25,590, $10,240 of which is a DUI enforcement grant. The money can only be used to pay for DUI overtime shifts. The other $15,350 is a federal justice assistance grant, which will pay for law enforcement programs and technology.

– The streets department needs $4,330 for preventative maintenance and additional fuel costs.

– The GIS department is requesting $11,800 for additional maintenance costs associated with an enterprise license agreement. Fifty percent of the costs will be offset by the county, and the other half will be paid by subscription fees within city departments.

New requests that will be paid by other city funds:

– The parks fund is requesting $15,000 to pay for part of ACRA’s $200,000 additional marketing. $15,000 also will come out of the Wheeler Opera House fund for the same appropriation.

– The housing development fund is requesting $340,020, $10,000 of which will go toward maintenance at the 312 W. Main St. city-owned property, and $5,000 is for general maintenance on other publicly owned land. The remaining amount will go toward repairs at the Annie Mitchell housing project.

– The stormwater fund needs $35,000 for a drainage criteria manual project.

– The water fund is requesting $26,000 for the Zgreen business outreach program. This request will be paid by Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) funds.

– The electric fund is requesting $195,490, of which $170,490 is for improving energy efficiency in affordable housing units and will be paid for by CORE. The remaining will be used for energy programs administered by the department.

– Truscott Place needs $53,000 to upgrade the electrical system; $20,000 for roof repair; $15,000 is to purchase video surveillance systems and $8,000 is for an energy audit.

– The employee housing fund is requesting $75,000 to complete roof repairs and improvements to Water Place housing units.

– The asset management capital fund needs $405,680, of which $160,280 is to purchase an additional flush truck for the streets department. A Colorado Department of Transportation grant will pay $116,035 and the streets department will pay $4,245.

Another $50,000 is requested for roof repairs to City Hall, and $35,000 is needed for aerial photography and related GIS base layer data for the Aspen area. An additional $600 is requested for remaining expenses related to the City Council chambers remodel, and $149,800 is needed to buy a software package for capital improvement projects.