Basalt has financial means to buy park
October 9, 2017
Paul Noto ("Fait accompli in Basalt," letters, The Aspen Times) indicates that the town of Basalt will have to give short shrift to snow plowing, the police department, employee housing, etc., if it moves forward to purchase the remaining Pan and Fork property.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Purchase of the Pan and Fork will come from restricted Parks and open space funds, extending the underpass bond debt by three years and, yes, the general fund. When it comes to the general fund, council can raise reserves to 33 percent of its budget in one year or purchase the park and raise reserves over a 3-year period.
While the 33 percent amount is arbitrary, it is reasonable. The reserve was reduced during the tenure of the last town manager, who managed to have the town spend it down. This town manager quit when council starting demanding more oversight of his expenditures. Restoring it in three years, if in fact it takes that long, is reasonable, and will not affect the operating budget of the police department or public works.
Noto also states that the Town will hire an outside consultant who will state that "everything will be just fine." Perhaps this will happen, but I don't think it is necessary. There are some financially sharp members on this council and anyone else who has the data and can do arithmetic will arrive at the conclusion that the purchase will not jeopardize the town's finances.
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