City has plan to spend extra tax revenue | AspenTimes.com

City has plan to spend extra tax revenue

Janet Urquhart

If Aspen voters let the city keep excess property tax revenues for the next five years, the City Council has a plan to put the money to use.An outdoor pool at the Aspen Recreation Center, stormwater drainage improvements, sidewalk/trail improvements and one or two new alternatives to diesel buses – probably electric hybrid buses – all won a nod as the council tweaked the proposed ballot language Tuesday.A resolution posing the ballot question will be on the council’s agenda for formal approval next week.The city will ask voters to keep excess property tax revenues generated by the existing tax rate for the next five years. The measure is expected to produce $2.5 million to $3 million between 2005 and 2009. The city already keeps excess tax revenues through a measure voters passed five years ago; it expires at the end of this year.The planned expenditures include about $600,000 for an upgrade to cleaner-running buses. The city plans to have four of them in its fleet by 2007 and could have six of the vehicles by 2010, said Randy Ready, assistant city manager.Roughly $600,000 in stormwater improvements, in conjunction with a parks department plan to build wetlands at Jenny Adair Park near the Roaring Fork River, are intended to clean pollutants from stormwater runoff before it enters the river.The city has a list of some $4 million worth of missing links in its sidewalk and trail system. About $1.1 million of the tax revenues would be applied to tackling those projects and bringing curbs into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.The cost of the projects reflects the challenges in finishing the links – they have right-of-way issues, grade challenges and other issues, said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager.”They’re the missing links because they’re the most challenging pieces,” he said.About $700,000 would be earmarked for the design and construction of an outdoor pool in the grassy area next to the indoor pools at the ARC. An outdoor element was envisioned there when the ARC was built, but there was no money to build it then.”If you build a relatively straightforward pool and maybe a hot tub … you can do it for this price,” Sadler said.Community input could turn it into something much bigger, he warned.”This one is iffy. If you do this, you’ve got to be prepared to put more money toward this or hold the line,” he said.”It’s up to the City Council to not let it grow into something more than the community can afford,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said.”That will be something I’ll be glad to hold the line on,” Councilman Torre responded.The ballot measure will go to city voters in November.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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