New Aspen finance director looks to future, not past |

New Aspen finance director looks to future, not past

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Aspens new finance director left a similar position in Steamboat Springs last year after its city manager said he let him go. But Don Taylor, who was named this week as the director of Aspens finance and administrative services, said he resigned from the position he held for seven years.Taylor told the Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper last fall that he found out in June he would leave City Hall.City Manager Alan Lanning told the newspaper that he asked Taylor to find another position, citing philosophical differences. Other observers say Lanning, who had been on the job for a year when Taylor left, was looking to build his own management team within City Hall.Taylor confirmed this week that was his take on the circumstances surrounding his departure from city government in Steamboat.I resigned but Alan was looking to build his own team, Taylor said. This was out of character with my work history.Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick said he has known Taylor for more than two decades. While working in finance for the town of Vail, Barwick first met Taylor when he worked for the town of Breckenridge. Taylor worked for Breckenridge for 16 years as the finance director and assistant city manager.Ive known Don for 20-plus years and he has a great statewide reputation, Barwick said, adding he and Taylor discussed during the interview process what happened in Steamboat. He was very open about it.Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord told the Steamboat Pilot that the decision to leave was Taylors and he left the city on good terms.After leaving the city of Steamboat in September, Taylor went into real estate. He currently is a broker with a real estate firm called Real Living Professional Group. He also owns several investment properties that he manages.Taylor said hes getting back into city government because of the opportunities Aspen presents.Aspen was the only reason to get back in, he said, adding that for years he has looked to Aspen as a model for many government policies, specifically the citys housing and transportation programs.Barwick said he is counting on Taylors extensive experience to guide Aspen city government through several large financing issues, including a multi-million-dollar affordable housing package which will debut March 25, a day after Taylor begins work here.Putting affordable housing on the fast track is a result of a two-day housing summit held in September. A plan and how to pay for potentially hundreds of affordable housing units will be discussed by the City Council. Another top priority for the council is to begin the second phase of Burlingame Ranch, which would add 116 units to the 120 units already built there. Phase two is estimated to cost more than $50 million, which would exhaust the citys housing fund until the projects completion in 2011.Building all thats identified likely will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The city’s housing plans likely will mean going to the voters in November of 2008 to approve a bond to pay for hundreds of additional units.The additional housing also would require reauthorization of the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) and the housing/daycare sales tax, which are revenue streams that currently contribute to the city’s housing fund.Taylor also will be handling issues surrounding the City Councils desire to require developers to deed-restrict a portion of their commercial spaces so locally-serving businesses can afford to set up shop in Aspen.Taylor likely will take the lead in analyzing how that move would impact the local marketplace and how it might create an unfair advantage for other businesses who pay market rent in the commercial core.Utility pricing is expected to be another major financing issue in the years ahead, Barwick said. A proposal likely is to come forward that would raise the newly created Aspen Electrics tiered rates, which charge consumers according to their usage.The tiered rates could allow all electric users a certain number of kilowatt hours at one price, but over a certain amount (to be determined by a homes square footage), the price for electricity would go up.That excess revenue then would be funneled into a city program that would offer subsidized energy audits for home and building owners that could result in them taking measures to reduce their consumption and save money in the long run.We really need a seasoned financial person with a high level of skills, and he certainly has the skills we need, Barwick said.Barwick said a national search was conducted for a new finance director and the city received 30 applications. The hiring team consisted of Barwick, assistant city manager Randy Ready, interim finance director Barry Crook and director of the citys parks department, Jeff Woods.Taylor replaces Paul Menter, who resigned in November to take a similar position at the Aspen Community Foundation.Taylor, 54, who is single and has adult children, said he plans to rent a free-market unit in Aspen. His starting annual salary is $107,000. The top pay for that position is $124,000, Barwick