S’mass Town Council recap: Ban on flavored tobacco, approved 2020 budgets
On top of starting its review of the proposed Snowmass Center redevelopment project, Town Council also approved the town’s 2020 budget and the first reading of an ordinance restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products sold in the village. Here’s a recap:
BAN ON FLAVORED TOBACCO APPROVED BY 3-2 VOTE
With a 3-2 vote, council approved the first reading of an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff, mints and electronic smoking devices, which would go into effect at the start of 2020.
“Town Council finds that this ordinance furthers and is necessary for the promotion of public health, safety and welfare to reduce the appeal of tobacco to youth,” the ordinance states. “Studies show flavored tobacco products promote early initiation of tobacco use by young people by reducing or masking the natural harshness and taste of tobacco.”
The ordinance also cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has reported a more than 800% increase in electronic cigarette use among middle school and high school students between 2011 and 2015.
And according to Risa Turetsky, a Pitkin County Public Health official who spoke before council on the ordinance, the Roaring Fork Valley has some of the highest rates of e-cigarette use in the country.
“One of the things we don’t like to talk about but is the reality is that none of these policies are going to make 100 percent difference,” Turetsky said. “It’s going to take collaboration, to take policies, schools and parents.”
Snowmass Village would join Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Boulder in passing an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, town officials noted.
But councilmembers Tom Goode and Bob Sirkus expressed concern with the local ban, citing it as a government overreach and a need for evidence on how tobacco bans already in place work before approving a new one.
“If we already make it difficult for someone under 21 to buy tobacco products I think we should see how effective or not that is across the board,” Sirkus said. “Until we get some feedback, we’re taking a potshot.”
“What the flavor does is make it enticing to kids and then they try it and don’t even realize it’s tobacco anymore,” said Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk in response to Sirkus. “I’m just telling you, Bob, spend five minutes with my daughter and she will tell you it is such an epidemic in the high school here and I think we’re making a big mistake if we don’t do this now.”
Shenk, Mayor Markey Butler and Councilman Bill Madsen voted for the local ban. Sirkus and Goode voted against it.
TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES 2020 BUDGET
Town Council unanimously approved the 2020 town budget Nov. 4.
In 2020, the town modestly projected gaining $34.5 million in revenue, with over 60% coming from sales, property, real estate transfer, lodging and excise taxes; and distributing $35.7 million in expenditures, with 45% going toward personnel services and nearly 19% toward capital improvement projects.
Some of the improvement projects the town aims to tackle include construction of Coffey Place deed-restricted housing; continued planning and engineering of the proposed Village Mall transit center; and continued design work on reconfiguring Town Park.
GID BUDGET RESOLUTIONS APPROVED
Before the Town Council regular meeting Nov. 4, councilmembers acted as the General Improvement District Board of Directors to approve two resolutions to the 2019 and 2020 budgets for the special Base Village area tax district.
The first resolution reflected additional revenue in interest income and changes in expenditures to the 2019 budget, namely rolling over consultant fees for the review of the Sky Cab, or Skittles, redevelopment options to 2020, and an increase in utility costs due to last year’s colder winter.
Revenue from the 2019 GID budget increased by $4,179 and total expenditures decreased by $42,347, according to the resolution.
The second resolution adopted the 2020 budget, which includes an increase in property taxes of $30,597 due to an increase in the assessed value of Base Village properties. It also included $224,970 in Skittles operating costs. The $50,000 slated for an analysis of alternatives to the Skittles also was transferred over from the 2019 budget.
Bystanders, Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers, CareFlight of the Rockies and other public safety organizations helped respond to an injured hiker near Snowmass Lake on Tuesday, according to a news release.
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