Pitkin County passes $102.7 million budget for 2017
Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday approved a $102.7 million county budget for 2017.
Next year’s budget continues an emphasis on infrastructure projects that includes about $1.3 million toward the renovation of and addition to the county’s headquarters building at 530 E. Main St. Most of the money for that project — $23.6 million — was budgeted in 2016.
Other infrastructure projects of note in the 2017 budget are a new facility for the Aspen Ambulance District, designing a new terminal at the airport, a new public safety communications system, the beginning of a broadband system for rural areas of the county, installing solar panels at two county buildings and creating more affordable housing, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock has said.
“This (budget) represents responsible use of county tax dollars,” Peacock told commissioners Tuesday.
The board unanimously passed the budget items Tuesday. Commissioner Patti Clapper was not present.
Commissioners have been holding public hearings about the 2017 budget at their bi-monthly regular meetings since October, Peacock said. During that time, no one from the public has shown up to comment on it, he said.
Commissioner Michael Owsley wanted to know why.
“I don’t really have an answer for you, Michael,” Peacock said. “I’d like to speculate that it’s because we’ve done a good job.
“Public budgets can also be difficult for the public to understand.”
Owsley said he realizes the entire budget might be more than members of the public want to grasp, but that certain portions could be of interest.
“It’s hard to believe that someone doesn’t have one issue they feel isn’t addressed or addressed too much (in the budget),” Owsley said. “If you have questions about government, the budget is where you can make an impact.”
Commissioner Rachel Richards suggested that perhaps county residents and other interested parties might be watching the budget unfold via televised commissioner meetings.
Pitkin County functions on a calendar year budget rather than a fiscal year budget, so the new budget kicks in Jan. 1.
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Onsite parking won out over a Turkish bath at a new lodge planned to be built across from City Market. Aspen’s elected officials didn’t want to burden the neighborhood with offsite parking for the new hotel.