Town manager to council: Snowmass in “strong position” to handle negative economic impacts of COVID-19
At the virtual Snowmass Town Council meeting Monday, Town Manager Clint Kinney reiterated the town’s financial outlook as it continues through the unknown of the COVID-19 crisis: The village is in a good place.
“The very good news was 2019 was better than expected,” Kinney said. “Obviously since January our projections are going to change somewhat … but 2019 was a great year. We’ve probably had 40 years of very conservative fiscal planning and over the last five years this council has done a really good job of being conservative.”
While Kinney said he and town staff are confident in Snowmass Village’s ability to financially persevere through the coronavirus pandemic, he acknowledged that 2020 will be a tough year.
Based on preliminary 2020 budget projections being tracked by the town’s finance department, Kinney said the village expects to see a 27% average reduction in actual sales tax revenue over the rest of 2020.
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That includes a 50% decline in March, a 60% decline in April, a 40% decline in May and June each, and a 35% decline each month from July through December. The town also estimates a roughly 11% reduction in general fund operating revenues.
When looking at how these anticipated revenue losses due to the COVID-19 crisis compare with the losses the village suffered as a result of the 2008 recession, Kinney said the town saw a 15% average reduction over the 2009 budget year.
“We’re planning for a larger, deeper reduction than we had in 2009,” Kinney said.
But despite these revenue losses, Kinney said the town still estimates ending 2020 roughly $800,000 in the positive, as the town ended the 2019 budget year with more funds than it anticipated, including $4.8 million in the general fund alone.
Snowmass Village also ended 2019 with $2.3 million more than budgeted for in its Real Estate Transfer Tax fund and $1.2 million more in its Marketing and Special Events fund, according to town documents. Overall, the town’s actual 2019 end balance was $14.8 million more than the amount budgeted.
“The real message I want to get out is we’re in a good position. Even with the reductions we’re anticipating I think we’re going to be able to grow our end fund balance over the 2020 budget,” Kinney said. “We’re in a strong position.”
Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday evening that rolled these extra and unspent 2019 funds into the 2020 budget, along with expenditures and projects budgeted for 2019 but not completed.
There was little council discussion on the ordinance or the projected 2020 budget, but when asked how Snowmass Village’s 2020 budget projections compared with the city of Aspen’s, Kinney said overall the village’s expected deficits aren’t estimated to be as large. He explained that’s mainly because summer is a bigger tourism season for Aspen than winter, whereas Snowmass gets most of its tourism-related revenue over the winter.
Kinney also said town staff is looking at ways it can cut costs over the coming months and will continue to pay close attention to the potential revenue trends moving forward.
Outside of the COVID-19 crisis’ economic impact, Kinney also said none of the town’s summer events had been canceled as of Monday due to the pandemic and that the Village Shuttle will still operate on its current “bare bones” schedule.
Kinney and David Peckler, town transportation director, said the town is moving about 90 people per day, which exceeds the capacity to operate the Village Shuttle as “dial for ride” only.
Most of these passengers are using the town shuttle system to get to and from the Snowmass Center, and seem transit dependent to travel there and access the Center’s essential services, Kinney and Peckler said.
More updates on the town’s COVID-19 crisis response can be found at tosv.com/495/COVID-19-updates.
For more on the Snowmass Town Council meeting Monday, read Wednesday’s Snowmass Sun within The Aspen Times or at SnowmassSun.com. email@example.com
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