Town Council and staff reacted to the loss of these projects by reducing expenditures in 2008 and budgeting revenues very conservatively for 2009. So in effect, the town will provide less service to its residents and guests next year. For one, we have made reductions in the free Dial-A-Ride service by eliminating one driver/vehicle per shift. This modification will result in generally longer wait times, approximately 40 percent longer. Also, we have reduced staff throughout departments over 2008 and 2009 – primarily seasonal employees, but full-time staff as well. Capital expenditures for road re-surfacing have been reduced, and most vehicle and rolling stock have been pushed out to future years. In addition to that, we have increased fees for services including cable television and internet as well as water rates.
Despite the major loss of revenues, the Town of Mountain Village has accomplished something for next year that few towns and cities across the country can emulate: We are lowering property taxes. Our debt service levy is being reduced due to the planned retirement of the recreation bonds that had previously been approved but for which there is no current project moving forward for a recreation center. In addition to that, the general tax mill levy was established through public referendum and cannot be increased without voter approval. Aside from this good news, there are more bright spots in our economy. Sales tax revenues for 2008 are running about 4 percent ahead of 2007, and we anticipate that the opening of the Capella Hotel in late winter will increase our overall viability and competitiveness with other resort communities.
So with that, and within the constraints of the 2009 budget, Town Council and staff are committed to providing the highest quality of services possible in the coming year. To this end, we will continue to look for ways to improve services and work with our various partners – Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, Town of Telluride, San Miguel County, and other regional partners – to help make your tax dollars stretch even further.
And as a last note, please join us Tuesday, Dec. 9 in Town Hall for the monthly Town Council meeting which will include a public hearing and adoption of the 2009 budget. For an approximate time for this agenda item and a detailed budget, please visit our website, www.townofmountainvillage.com.