News in Brief
City OKs $101.6 million budgetA $101.6 million 2006 budget won final approval from the Aspen City Council on Monday.The sum reflects $84.5 million for operations, capital expenses and debt payments, plus another $17 million in transfers between city funds. The $84.5 million in expenses includes $8 million in debt payments, $45.5 million for operations and $36 million in capital expenses – mostly construction of the Burlingame Ranch employee housing, budgeted at about $23.2 million in 2006.About $4 million in new expenditures are included in Aspen’s 2006 operations, including $705,780 in new positions. Most are in the Community Development Department, which is handling an onslaught of development applications. The first of three payments to repay the city’s housing fund for the purchase of the Zupancis property and $300,000 toward installing artificial turf on the high school football field are also new expenses.Also Monday, the council set a 2006 mill levy of 5.41 mills. It will produce $4.5 million in property tax revenues, including a projected $563,294 in excess property taxes that voters have authorized the city to keep.Snyder Park homeowners can finish basementsOwners of one-bedroom employee units at Snyder Park will be allowed to finish off the basements in their units, including installation of a half-bathroom, the City Council agreed Monday.The half-baths, with a sink and toilet but no shower, may limit the potential for homeowners to turn the basements into rentable rooms, council members reasoned. However, the council won’t try to prohibit use of the basements in eight one-bedroom units at Snyder as bedrooms.”There is nothing prohibiting them from being bedrooms now,” pointed out Mayor Helen Klanderud. “The thing is, if you prohibit bedrooms, you’re probably going to get them anyway.”The council’s prior discussion on the Snyder Park basements, however, brought out concerns about increased density and parking in the east-end neighborhood.Homeowner Dan Glick brought the issue forward. He wants to turn his basement into an office/den with a bathroom.”It’s just very frustrating to see 750 square feet of basement space being unused,” he said.”It seems simply wasteful to me to not allow these to become finished in some fashion,” agreed Councilman Jack Johnson.City OKs Smuggler open space allocationAspen will put up $7.5 million toward the acquisition of open space on Smuggler Mountain, splitting the $15 million price with Pitkin County, the City Council formally agreed Monday.The council unanimously supported a resolution authorizing the purchase of property owned by George “Wilk” Wilkinson on Smuggler, earning a rare round of applause from the audience.The deal for about 140 acres, plus the mineral rights on some additional acreage, is expected to close on Dec. 12.X Games concerts can be loud, lateA noise variance for concerts at Wagner Park, as part of ESPN’s Winter X Games in January, won approval from the Aspen City Council on Monday.Concerts are planned Jan. 27 and 28 at the park, starting at 10 p.m. and ending by 11:30 p.m. The later start time will give people at the games time to get to town. Competition at Buttermilk ends at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday.The concert acts have not yet been announced.
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The property tax overcharge refunds are in the hands of Basalt residents. A new civic organization is cranking up its campaign to have recipients contribute some or all of their refunds to the Basalt Gives effort to benefit midvalley-serving nonprofits.