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Town Council gives direction on economic stimulus efforts, honors retirement of building official

Snowmass Town Hall on May 3, 2020.
Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun

In a short meeting June 15, Snowmass Town Council gave town staff direction on the town’s new “Love a Local” marketing and stimulus program, and on pursuing federal CARES Act funds in collaboration with Pitkin County. Council also recognized the work and dedication of now-former chief building official Mark Kittle, who retired earlier this month, and received a Colorado primary election update. Here’s the recap:

COUNCIL GIVES DIRECTION ON ‘LOVE A LOCAL’ CAMPAIGN

Town Council received updates on two in-progress initiatives to help with economic recovery and create vitality in Snowmass amid the coronavirus pandemic: implementing a multifaceted shop local stimulus program and pursuing federal CARES Act funds in collaboration with Pitkin County.

First, council was briefed on “Love a Local,” a marketing and stimulus program crafted by town staff with help from the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force to heighten the sense of pride when residents and visitors shop locally and generate more traffic to village merchants, as explained by Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello (see related story).

The program’s main element is the distribution of $25 vouchers to roughly 8,000 area residents. The vouchers will be sent via mail to all Snowmass, Woody Creek and Old Snowmass P.O. boxes, and to all Aspen residential addresses and Snowmass front line staff. Voucher holders can use their free $25 (no change will be given) at any Snowmass business with a physical village location through July 31. Businesses can then bring the vouchers they receive to Town Hall and staff will write them a check worth their total voucher amount.

The voucher program will cost the town $200,000 to implement, an amount that will be taken out of the marketing fund, along with any other “Love a Local” related costs, according to Town Manager Clint Kinney.

“The voucher program is a direct stimulus opportunity for the town to provide dollars to area locals to come and spend dollars in the village,” Kinney said June 15. “We’re ready to move on it but before we send everything to the printer we wanted to make sure the council was aware of the provisions of the program and to get direction on how to proceed.”

Town Council expressed overall support for the “Love a Local” program, directing town staff to move ahead. The $25 vouchers should be in mailboxes next week and village area residents and visitors should soon notice the “Love a Local” logo and marketing around town.

After discussing “Love a Local,” Kinney briefed council on the town’s plan to create a unified application for federal CARES Grant funding from the state with Basalt, Aspen and Pitkin County.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund that was established by Congress in late March. The funds are designed to be distributed to state and local governments, but up until recently, Colorado had not decided on how funds could be distributed to state communities with less than 500,0000 people.

The distribution process is still not finalized, Kinney said, but area government officials have been informed that small communities will be required to make a grant-type request for funds — a request officials believe will be stronger if local county and municipality governments collaborate and apply together, he explained. Area government officials believe Pitkin County will be eligible for $1.5 million, Kinney said, which Snowmass Village would get $170,000 of that.

Kinney also proposed to council that the funds be used to help the county bolster its “Box It In” strategy, specifically to improve contact tracing, public health education and enforcement efforts. He said specific details and allocation can be worked out later, but that the town feels putting the funds toward countywide services would be most effective.

Town Council expressed overall consensus with the idea of applying for CARES Act funds in collaboration with the county and its two other municipalities, and feel using the funds for education and enforcement is a good idea.

“I am a big believer in working together,” Mayor Markey Butler said. “I find strength in number and strength in cooperation in these types of relationships is very good.”

The initial application to the state for CARES Act funding is due in early July, which Kinney said the town would work with Pitkin County officials on submitting.

MARK KITTLE honored

In non-COVID-19 related news, Mayor Butler honored the dedication of Mark Kittle, who has been working as the town’s chief building official for 17 years.

Through a mayoral proclamation, Butler acknowledged Kittle’s service to the town, specifically noting how he ensured the first and second phases of the Base Village project were carried out safely and in alignment with town building code requirements, and his commitment to energy efficiency measures that has helped the village reduce its carbon footprint.

“We are all grateful for Mark’s knowledge, kindness and devotion to serving the residents, businesses and contractors in Snowmass Village,” Butler said, reading from the proclamation. “Now, therefore be it proclaimed by Markey Butler, Mayor of Snowmass Village on behalf of all citizens, that Mark Kittle shall forever be respected and held in the highest appreciation by all citizens of Snowmass Village for his 17 years of dedication and devotion to our community.”

Kinney and Councilman Tom Goode added to the sentiments expressed in the proclamation. Kinney said he feels he has received the most town staff compliments from the community about Kittle and his professionalism, and Goode extended a thank you on behalf of himself and all of the building contractors and developers in the Snowmass area.

“We’ve had the best community development and building department for years and it’s all because of you,” Goode said to Kittle.

Julie Ann Woods, director of the town’s community development department, expressed similar thoughts June 15.

“Mark has left some pretty big shoes to fill and we are going to miss him terribly,” Woods said. “Thank you so much Mark for making my life so much easier.”

After the recognition, Mark thanked town staff for their acknowledgement and kind remarks.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words but I really appreciate it,” Kittle said. “I’m going to miss all of you guys.”

COLORADO PRIMARY ELECTION UPDATE

Janice Vos Caudill, clerk and recorder for Pitkin County, updated council on county information about voting in the Colorado primary election, which is June 30.

In a short presentation, Voss said county residents should receive their ballots this week. Ballots can be mailed back to Pitkin County or dropped off at the county administration building, in front of Snowmass Town Hall or in front of Basalt Town Hall. Voss encouraged residents to mail their ballots back by June 22 to ensure they’re counted. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. June 30.

On Monday, early voting begins and the conference room adjacent to the Pitkin County administration building’s lobby will be made available for in-person voting if it is essential. Masks and social distancing will be required and enforced.

If residents have any questions, need to register to vote or to get a ballot sent to them, Voss said they should visit pitkinvotes.com. Limited in-person help at the county building also will be available, Voss said, and residents can call 970-429-2732 for more information.


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