Aspen officeholders spend first, analyze later

It’s been known since February and certainly March that COVID-19 would devastate the Aspen economy, and thus city revenue. In memos for an upcoming council work session, the city manager and finance director have estimated the dollar effect: The downturn that began in February has reduced expected revenue for all of 2020 over 30%. From $80.7 million to $55.7 million. The memos also estimate revenue will be down in 2021 and 2022.

This is a fiscal crisis for Aspen. City Council is being asked to adopt a drastically revised annual budget. When that prospect looms, responsible authorities jealously guard scarce resources, especially the bucks. But not Aspen’s City Council.

Before the city manager and finance director could even pull these numbers together, City Council impulsively and emotionally voted $6 million of off-budget aid to various interest groups. That turned out to be 10% of ruthlessly diminished city revenue for the year. Council didn’t know that because they didn’t wait for information.

Aspen City Council: Ready. Fire. Aim.

Maurice Emmer