S’mass Town Council recap: New clinic, winter parking plan, 2020 proposed budget
Guest presentations and department reports dominated Snowmass Town Council discussions Oct. 21.
During an over two-hour meeting, council members heard an update from Aspen Valley Hospital on its new initiatives and the new Snowmass clinic set to open in Base Village this December; from David Peckler, town transportation director, on this year’s winter parking plan; from Rose Abello, town tourism director on the 2020 tourism budgets; from Brian Olson, town police chief on the proposed addition of a trail enforcer position; and from Greg Smith, chair of the town’s Financial Advisory Board, on the 2020 proposed budget plan.
AVH TO OPEN NEW snowmass CLINIC IN DECEMBER
First to the table was Deborah Breen, president and CEO of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, and Dave Ressler, chief executive officer for Aspen Valley Hospital.
Breen and Ressler briefly went over the hospital’s first annual impact report and goal to provide a full spectrum of affordable health and specialty medical services to locals, namely through the new Valley Health Alliance, a coalition of Roaring Fork employers focused on providing better, more affordable health care to their employees next year.
“In order to be part of the solution for health care costs in our communities and our country that have become untenable, we can’t wait for federal or state solutions,” Ressler said of the new alliance to Town Council. “We need to help manage health care and provide more affordable access.”
After touching on the Valley Health Alliance, which the city of Aspen and Pitkin County are set to be a part of, Ressler and Breen talked about the Snowmass Medical Care clinic move from its Village Mall location to One Snowmass in Base Village.
The hospital officials said they expect to open the new year-round clinic by Dec. 11, if the rest of the east One Snowmass building is completed.
Breen said the hospital should have a more firm grand opening date by Dec. 5, when locals are invited to tour the new facility and enjoy s’mores and hot chocolate on the Limelight hotel patio for a soft opening event.
“We want to offer tours of the facility early so people are well aware of what’s to come,” Breen said.
“We’re really excited about the growth and development of the village and are happy to assure medical care is available year-round for the people who require it,” Ressler added.
WINTER PARKING PLAN APPROVED
Town Council approved the proposed winter parking plan for 2019-20, which is relatively unchanged from last year except for an increase in parking spaces.
The annual agreement, which is between the town, Aspen Skiing Co., Snowmass Mountain Lodging, LLC, and Base Village Metropolitan District No. 1, showed a 40 day-parking space increase in the Rodeo Lot with the dissolution of the temporary fire department facility. Base Village also will have more parking garage spaces with the completion of the One Snowmass buildings, the agreement states.
The agreed management limit of available public parking spaces is 2,425 total. With the addition of the Base Village parking garage spaces, the total number of spaces this winter will be 2,337, according to the plan.
There is no change to the resident and employee parking fees. Guest parking will remain at $10 per day; day visitor parking at Two Creeks will be $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekends and holidays; and the parking garage in Base Village will be free for the first hour, then $5 per hour to as much as $30 for the day between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
COUNCIL TO DROP TRAIL ENFORCEMENT POSITION
At the Oct. 14 special meeting and first 2020 budget discussion, Town Council asked Marianne Rakowski, town finance director, and Clint Kinney, town manager, to adjust next year’s proposed budget plan to reflect the addition of a part-time, year-round trails enforcement position.
Rakowski came back Oct. 21 with this adjustment, showing the position including benefits would cost $66,945.
Police Chief Brian Olson also was at the Oct. 21 meeting to speak on the position addition, which he felt was necessary moving forward but a little premature.
Olson said police did not receive many complaints related to trail behavior over the summer, and feels it’d be better to look at adding a trails enforcement position during the 2021 budget discussions, as he would have a better idea then of the duties associated with the position.
“No one would like to see a trail presence on a more permanent basis than me. I think that would be a move forward,” Olson said. “I was moving forward in 2020 with a trail enforcement position but I asked Clint to retract that.”
Right now, he feels the trail enforcer couldn’t spend more than 10 hours a day on the Snowmass trails. However, he said the town plans to look at implementing a summer parking program, similar to what’s in place over the winter, in 2021, which would make a trails enforcement position more feasible.
Town Council agreed with Olson’s logic and decided to hold off on looking to add the position until 2021.
After Olson presented, Financial Advisory Board Chair Greg Smith presented the town board’s overall thoughts on the 2020 budget plan, which were overwhelmingly positive.
Smith said the board agrees with the planned decisions to assume no increase in sales and lodging taxes over the current 2019 projections, and in increasing the town’s reserve funds from 25% to 30%.
“You can certainly trust the numbers you are seeing. … It’s a very thorough and detailed budget showing all of the money coming in and all of the money coming out,” Smith said. “I think the plan is a good approach to the budget but there is certainly ample funding available in town for council to identify other areas where they feel it’s appropriate to spend money.”
He also said the board recommends council look at creating a reserve fund for annual road expenditures in 2021, and that board members are willing to take on any financial topic Town Council desires.
Town Council hinted to Smith that they may ask for the Financial Advisory Board’s assistance with the proposed mall transit center and new town entryway.
Continued discussion and adoption of the 2020 proposed town budget plan is set to take place Nov. 4 at the next regular meeting.
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On Sept. 11, a small group of local Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responders walked 3 miles from Snowmass Town Park to the Top of the Village for the fifth annual Axes and Arms 9/11 Climb.