In Brief: Snowmass Squirm Night; County launches transparency tool
Snowmass Squirm Night today
Local media leaders from the Aspen Daily News, Aspen Public Radio, The Aspen Times and Grassroots TV will host a Squirm Night, the second one this election season — this time in the Snowmass Village Town Hall.
The first round, from 5:30-6:20 p.m., will focus on the mayoral race, with incumbent Bill Madsen seeking a second term against challenger and current Councilman Reed Lewis. Then, from 6:30-7:20 p.m., a panel including Daily News Editor Megan Tackett, Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers and Aspen Public Radio’s Kaya Williams will ask questions of the four candidates vying for two open council seats.
Incumbent Councilman Thomas “Tom” Goode is seeking re-election. The other candidates are Susan Marolt, a former member of Aspen School District Board of Education, longtime town resident Britta Gustafson and Snowmass Village Planning and Zoning Commission member Matthew Dubé. The evening will be broadcast by Grassroots TV and available on the organization’s website, grassrootstv.org.
Last week’s Squirm Night focused on the Pitkin County candidates — Kelly McNicholas Kury and Erin Smiddy are competing for the Pitkin County commissioner seat, and Joe DiSalvo and Michael Buglione are fighting to lead the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. That recording is available on the Grassroots TV website and on Youtube.
Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters on Oct. 17. Voters who want to go to a polling site have options as explained on the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s website, http://www.pitkinvotes.com/2022-general.
Snowmass Village voters will also vote on ballot question 2C, which asks whether permissible uses of existing sales tax revenues and lodging tax revenues can be expanded to include workforce housing efforts.
County looks at bigger budget
The Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners began work this week on the 2023 county budget and five-year plan. Final adoption is scheduled for Dec. 13.
“The 2023 budget and five-year plan has been developed under difficult economic circumstances that emerged amid ongoing COVID-19 recovery and international conflicts. Specifically, we have seen a slowdown in the global economy combined with persistently high inflation. Generally, a slowing economy and inflation do not coexist,” said County Manager Jon Peacock.
He said the county is in a strong financial position, thanks to conservative budgeting in 2021 and 2022, when revenues grew beyond projections. The county is entering 2023 with historic fund balances.
“These surpluses provide opportunities to invest in operations and projects that will make our community and organization more sustainable and resilient,” said Peacock.
The proposed 2023 budget and five-year plan emphasize:
- Retention and recruitment of staff;
- Ongoing high inflation;
- Funding for board-directed priorities and projects. The proposed budget and five-year plan include one-time expenditures for transit and transportation improvements, renewable energy projects, criminal justice system improvements, affordable housing projects, airport planning/improvements, affordable housing investments and many other one-time projects, officials said.
The proposed 2023 budget for all funds is $183,498,672, a 14% increase from 2022. Year-over-year increases are largely driven by addressing inflationary pressures, capital projects and one-time projects.
Expenditures proposed in the 2023 budget include $3.4 million for phase 1 of an integrated clean-energy microgrid system at the AABC; $250,000 allocated for planning and design for jail building; $3 million Aspen Airport commercial passenger terminal design; $3.9 million in support of community non-profits and health and human services agencies; $597,450 in county support for the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority, a 52% increase over 2022.
Sources of revenue for the county include sales tax, property tax, intergovernmental revenue, fees and service charges and investment income.
County launches transparency tool: OpenGov
The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners learned Tuesday about a new transparency tool. A dashboard for the county on opengov.com will be live for public viewing. The dashboard will include information about the proposed 2023 budget, including projected revenues and budgeted expenses for each fund in the county, county officials said.
“That information will be available to the public and BOCC to review to see where we have proposed spending for the next year,” said Liz Woods, deputy director of Finance for Pitkin County.
The online tool will feature summary information such as salaries and wages for a department; year-over-year sales-tax revenue comparisons; and, eventually, operating indicators for departments, like percent of property taxes collected by the Treasurer’s Office.
The dashboard on OpenGov.com will be available later this fall, officials said.
Medicare Monday information session
High Country Volunteers is partnering with the Colorado Gerontological Society to host an in-person Medicare Monday information session Nov. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at the Colorado Mountain College Glenwood Center at 1402 Blake Ave.
Volunteers will discuss the 2023 premiums, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and drug coverage. Register to attend by calling 970-384-8744.
Courts revamp survey for feedback
People with business in the courts of the First, Fourth, Eighth, Ninth and 12th Judicial Districts will be invited to participate in a pilot of a revamped program gathering feedback from court users. The courts will use the feedback to improve services.
All people who interact with the courts — including parties to cases, people filing forms or asking questions, attorneys, jurors and law enforcement — will be asked to complete a 3-minute electronic survey. The survey gauges court users’ perceptions of service quality and fairness and asks how they think the courts could improve. The survey link will be distributed to people via e-mail, made available on business cards and posted in courthouses. The survey initially will be available in English and Spanish but soon will be translated into eight other languages.
The Judicial Department officials believe the electronic format will increase the number of responses. The new format also will allow individual court locations to receive specific feedback faster and target service improvements. The pilot in the five districts will run through the end of 2022.
The five districts cover 15 counties: Gilpin, Jefferson, El Paso, Teller, Jackson, Larimer, Garfield, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache.
Fire Prevention Week highlights escape plans
This Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming urges everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape plan and test their smoke alarms to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent disaster.
Two minutes is the amount of time that fire experts say you may have to safely escape a home fire before it’s too late. These crises account for most of the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year across the U.S. — where home fire responses are 23% higher during cold months than warmer times of year.
“As the threat of home fires increases with colder temperatures, Fire Prevention Week serves as an important reminder to prepare now,” said Gino Grecko, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming. “Practice your two-minute home fire escape drill, and test your smoke alarms monthly to help keep your family safe.”
Discussion Oct. 26 on breast cancer options
In commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Valley View Breast Center will present “Surgical Options for Breast Cancer,” a virtual discussion via Zoom, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 6 p.m.
Breast surgeon Betsy Brew, MD, at Valley View’s Breast Center will discuss surgical options available to breast cancer patients from lumpectomies to mastectomies. This webinar is aimed at women of any stage of life who want to learn more about breast health.
To register, visit https://vvh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lwPIe7HIRD2JXDJBLqaDsA