City budget nears $130 million |

City budget nears $130 million

ASPEN When Aspen’s new mayor and two City Council members are sworn in this June, they’ll inherit a budget of $128.6 million. Last week, the council approved increasing this year’s budget by $37.4 million, from the $91.2 million that was originally approved. The amended budget came after requests were made from numerous city departments, from human resources to the Wheeler Opera House fund.The biggest boost came to the city’s housing development fund, which requested $4.4 million, of which $3.2 million has been earmarked for the Gerber property purchase, already approved by the City Council. The cash used to cover the housing fund’s increase comes from existing moneys in the housing fund. City Manager Steve Barwick also is getting a $22,930 pay bump, which accounts for both his salary and bonus that the council approved in January. All told, the city manager’s department boosted its budget by $55,640, with another $25,600 dedicated to the central savings for the city’s New Year’s event in 2006. The Wheeler Opera House, which has more than $20 million in its coffers, increased its budget by $161,070, with $30,500 earmarked for backstage improvements, $35,000 to be used for the purchase of lobby drapes, $19,580 to replace its telephone system, and $40,000 for HVAC duct work, among other expenditures.The special events department received a $46,000 bump, with $36,000 being used to cover the 2007 New Year’s Eve celebration, and the remaining $10,000 to be used to fund the upcoming Ride the Rockies, the Colorado bicycle tour that blasts through Aspen in June.A longtime employee of the Aspen Ice Garden will receive $42,500 as part of a retirement bonus, accumulated sick and vacation payout. The money will come from the general fund cash reserves.Community development received a $187,130 budget increase, of which $50,640 will pay the salary for a plans examiner from May through December. Another $60,000 will fund office space for new community development staff, among other expenditures. For more information on the city of Aspen’s budget, visit

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