Rent soars for RFTA park-and-ride |

Rent soars for RFTA park-and-ride

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

EL JEBEL ” The price for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to do business in El Jebel skyrocketed this year.

RFTA’s rent for a park-and-ride lot in the heart of El Jebel soared from $3,700 annually for the last several years to about $66,000 this year, according to Dan Blankenship, the public bus agency’s chief executive officer. RFTA rents about 1.5 acres from the Crawford family for a parking lot and bus stop. It’s one of the major park-and-rides in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Crawfords informed RFTA staff Dec. 4 that they are increasing the rent “to more accurately reflect the going rental rate for land in the area, and to help cover the cost of maintenance they incur,” Blankenship wrote in a memo to RFTA’s board of directors.

The bus agency enjoyed a below-market rate for years, Blankenship said. He was uncertain if it would make sense for the agency to rent the park-and-ride long-term at the adjusted rate of about $1 per square foot per month. RFTA will look at other options for an El Jebel park-and-ride as part of an expansion called Bus Rapid Transit, he said.

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CARBONDALE ” Count the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority among the governments reconsidering sales tax revenues in these recession-plagued times.

RFTA’s board of directors asked their staff at a regular meeting in Carbondale Thursday to work on an alternative budget that assumes sales tax revenues will decrease between 5 and 10 percent this year. RFTA’s original projections for the 2009 budget were more optimistic, with sales tax revenues at or near the same as last year.

The economic situation has deteriorated since local governments worked on their budgets. The city of Aspen recently lowered its sales tax revenue expectations.

“The numbers that we’re seeing forecast in the upper valley aren’t all that great,” said John Wilkinson, a Snowmass Village councilman and RFTA director.

Dan Blankenship, the bus agency’s chief executive officer, said that sales tax collections account for more than 40 percent of RFTA’s total revenue pie in any given year. He agreed that the agency needs to be prepared for life with lower tax collections in 2009. “We’ll be taking a look at everything we do,” he said.

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