Aspen’s proposed budget includes two full-time positions |

Aspen’s proposed budget includes two full-time positions

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The city of Aspen’s proposed budget for 2013 includes the creation of two significant personnel positions: another senior planner for the Community Development Department and a senior administrative assistant for the Special Events Department.

The combined annual cost associated with the two positions would be $176,800 – $100,000 related to the senior planner and $76,800 for the administrative assistant. That includes salary and the overhead costs that accompany the two jobs, such as benefits.

Community Development Director Chris Bendon said having another senior planner on his staff would free him up to deal with other important city initiatives identified by the City Council, such as rewriting the land-use code to conform with Aspen Area Community Plan goals and other long-range tasks.

“We’re looking at having a senior planner position, primarily focused on the larger cases that take my time and (Deputy Director Jennifer Phelan’s) time,” Bendon said. “It will free up time so that we can focus more on code amendments and revisions to the building-permit process we’ve been working on.”

The new senior planner would work with others in the department, as well as project applicants, in handling the complex issues that ultimately end up in the council’s court, Bendon said. The position would run for two years – 2013 and 2014. Whether the extra senior planner would remain beyond 2014 will be determined by the rate of project applications that are flowing through the department in late 2014, he said.

Bendon said the position wouldn’t have been needed in 2009 or 2010 during the economic downturn, when the rate of requests for project approvals was much slower.

Earlier this year, when the council began discussing a new 28-foot height limit for downtown projects, the department was flooded with new applications by developers seeking to play by existing rules that allowed taller buildings. The council went on to pass the 28-foot limit, but several applications made their way into the process just under the wire.

As for the other new full-time position, Special Events Director Nancy Lesley told the council on Monday that the position was needed because of extra work related to new and expanded special events the city has undertaken in recent years, such as the annual USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day cycling race through Colorado.

However, it remains to be seen whether the race will return to Aspen for a third straight year, city officials noted. A bid package to race organizers is being formulated.

Of the overall 2013 budget, which includes a 2.2 percent increase (from $49.94 million to $51.02 million) for city operations, Mayor Mick Ireland said it’s the easiest one he’s seen during three terms as mayor. Ireland is term-limited from seeking the office in May.

“Revenues are up, and costs are down,” Ireland said. “We’re not facing the gut-wrenching budget choices we’ve had in the past.”

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