City of Aspen approves $120M budget for next year
As part of its multimillion-dollar alternative transit experiment next year, Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved paying for more bus service between the Brush Creek Intercept Lot and downtown.
The estimated cost of the supplemental service is $276,000 and will be added to the city’s annual local service contract with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
The mobility lab, called Shift, is scheduled to operate during the summer of 2019. One of the main goals in the roughly $2.5 million endeavor is to have between 600 and 800 cars parked daily at the Intercept Lot and have their drivers get in alternative transit into town.
The city plans to incentivize people via an app called “Miles,” which will offer mileage redemptions through various vendors, both local and national.
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The beefed-up bus service would operate only between the Intercept Lot and Rubey Park, stopping at BRT stations in between.
The extra expenditure is part of the city’s 2019 budget, which council approved on first reading Tuesday as part of a continuation of Monday’s meeting. Elected officials will formally adopt the budget later this month.
Next year’s budget is $120.4 million, which includes appropriations authority for operational, debt service and capital outlay needs. It’s a decrease of 6.2 percent from what was originally budgeted, according to City Finance Director Pete Strecker.
New supplemental funding is sought for 2019, much of which is related to public transportation, but also for new oversight of a city operation and other projects.
“This budget includes some items the council has been talking through awhile now,” Strecker said. “Things like the Shift mobility lab project, bringing in the Red Brick Arts programming and facilities back into the city, the pedestrian mall project that we have some design money for and obviously getting a start on new city administrative offices.”
City officials are revising a funding plan for new city administrative offices between Rio Grande Place and Galena Plaza, as approved by voters last week.
The city anticipates using a combination of available cash and outside financing. The entire project, which includes up to 40,000 square feet of new development and a remodel of the current City Hall, is expected to cost $46.1 million.
Strecker also pointed out some larger capital to council.
“We also have some significant capital items like additional affordable-housing projects, the addition of four electric buses and some things like automated utility metering that we’ve been talking about,” he said. “There’s a whole host of items in there that basically benefit the entire community.”
To finish out this year’s budget, council also agreed to supplemental requests by various city departments — $10 million in asks that have been previously discussed and approved over the past few months.
The largest single increase sought within these previously approved items is the $8.7 million expenditure authority associated with the affordable housing development process that includes the public-private partnership and the city of Aspen acting as the construction lender.
Other notable items include installing concrete at Seventh and Main streets that was added to the Hallam Street/Castle Creek Bridge project, the city’s joint conservation easement acquisition for the Soldner property near the Burlingame housing development, and for additional stations and equipment for the bike-sharing program, which were offset largely by a grant and Pitkin County contributions.
Additionally, council on Tuesday signed off on nearly $1 million in new requests to be added to the 2018 budget, including:
Asset Management Plan Fund: $85,000 for additional efforts on the Castle Creek/Hallam Street project. These resources were for greater public outreach and additional flaggers during the construction, as well as further railing improvement costs and additional inspection services.
Asset Management Plan Fund: $104,500 is needed to address boiler issues at the Red Brick Center for the Arts that were discovered when the city took over the space.
Parks and Open Space Fund: $30,000 was requested to assist with the initial design and planning process associated with the Lift 1A corridor and the redevelopment of the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side. This will cover improvements and boundary survey of city-owned properties and land-use consultation when discussing development options for the area.
Stormwater: $327,000 for upsizing pipe in a project behind the Red Brick that was previously not identified as insufficient to carry new flow levels. And the city needs to restore the landscape and trail that was affected by this work, at a higher cost than previously budgeted.
General Fund: $132,960 for various departments, including an increase for detox services for the city’s share of those services with other entities, as well as resources for the community development department for temporary labor to help with complaints and enforcement issues, among other asks.
Wheeler Opera House: $76,610 for additional expenses tied to a restaurant changeover in the Wheeler Opera House and for water damage within the administrative offices below this space.
Transportation: $11,100 to improve cleaning services in the bathrooms at Rubey Park Transit Station.
Golf course: $62,180 for increased temporary labor costs due to the longer season and added curbside services, as well as staffing to keep up with more sales at the pro shop.
Technical/city policy: $155,760 for items related to grandfathered retirement benefits, net-zero reimbursement items and for items associated with technical accounting variances.
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