Town Finance Director Lynne Beck delivered this happy news to the Telluride Town Council at its regular meeting this Tuesday, Sept. 18. There is about a two-month lag between the time the State of Colorado collects sales taxes from businesses and redistributes them to their respective municipalities across the state.
Telluride’s check representing revenues collected in July 2012 was particularly fat – it came in at a whopping $493,912.57.
“We think it’s a continuation of a trend we’ve been seeing,” Beck said. “I attribute it to healthy summer tourism. The festivals have been strong but there has also been visible tourism between festivals. There’s been a lot of business and vibrancy in our commercial areas.”
June, too, was a lucrative month for Telluride, bringing in $462,411.62 in sales tax revenues. That was the second-highest June on record, Beck noted.
The recent sales tax trend reveals that Telluride’s summer season is getting close to matching its winter revenue. Records from the past five years show that winter’s most lucrative months have brought in between $500,000 and $519,000.
“We are getting close to that for a summer month,” Beck said. “It really shows how summer is picking up.”
Annual sales tax figures are also showing a notable upward tick. “If the remainder of summer and fall months are as good as they were last year, we will then have achieved for two years in a row the highest sales taxes in 20 years,” said Mayor Stu Fraser.
Real estate trends in town seem to be riding a similar wave of prosperity. Fraser noted that “somewhere between 10 and 12 closings” are expected to occur in Telluride over the next two to three weeks. “And Mountain Village had six go into contract in the past eight to 10 days,” he added. “Something is occurring there as well.”
The Town of Telluride benefits from real estate sales through its transfer tax. Funds from this revenue stream are dedicated to capital improvements and open space initiatives. To date, real estate transfer tax revenues for 2012 are up 82.53 percent over last year.
MORE TEETH FOR CAB, OR KAPUT?
Council agreed Tuesday to reevaluate the role of the Marshal’s Citizen Advisory Board, whose members act as liaisons between the community and the Telluride Marshal’s Department, and postponed the appointment of four new members to this board until further discussion takes place at an upcoming work session.
Councilman Thom Carnevale expressed his thoughts on the matter bluntly. “The Citizens Advisory Board is ineffective,” he said. “It hasn’t met since May, and it doesn’t have any teeth. We should discuss the possibility of giving it teeth or doing away with it.”
Town Attorney Kevin Geiger warned councilors against giving the CAB too many “teeth,” reminding them of significant legal action taken against the town in 2007, when CAB involved itself in personnel decisions at the Marshal’s Department. “CAB is a liaison between members of the community and the Marshal’s Department, not a board that gets involved in day to day management of the department in terms of how policing occurs in our community,” he said.
Mayor Stu Fraser said that the organization “has wandered from what its mission was” and recommended eliminating it.
Town staff will schedule a work session on the matter before the end of the calendar year, and will invite current CAB members and representatives from the Marshal’s Department to take part in the discussion.
GIVING CHANCE A CHANCE
Chance Leoff was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Historic and Architectural Review Commission (HARC) by a vote of 4-2, with councilors Kristen Permakoff and Ann Brady opposing.
Leoff was a member of HARC from 2001-2008, during which time he served for over a year as the Chair, and then for a subsequent year as the Vice Chair. He stepped down due to illness but told council he now feels well enough to resume the post. There were no other applicants to fill the vacancy.
Councilor Brady worried that Leoff’s service on the sometimes-controversial HARC could trigger a relapse of his condition.
“If you have too much time to sit around thinking about things that don’t turn out well, that’s not very good either,” Leoff countered. Serving on HARC “is something I have a strong interest in and hope I can make a contribution in.”
Councilors Carnevale, Saunders and Myers all expressed support of Leoff’s reappointment, as did outgoing HARC chair John Anderson and several others in the room.
But Councilor Permakoff expressed doubts about Leoff’s suitability. “I wonder how flexible he can be as HARC faces big decisions?” she said.
Leoff pointed to his four-term record on HARC as proving that “everyone gets a fair shake.”
Saunders asked Leoff if he considers himself “anti-development.”
“It may sound idiotic, but I think that good development is good, and bad development is bad,” he said. “I’d rather see a lot with a compliant structure on it than a vacant lot in a very visible place that has the potential to become something it shouldn’t.”
Leoff also stressed his belief that preserving Telluride’s historic quality represents an economic and intrinsic value.
“As ski revenues fall, heritage tourism dollars increase,” he said. And as residents of a town with a National Historic District, Telluridians are “de facto stewards of something that’s for everybody,” he maintained.
Council also appointed Jenny Patterson to fill a vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Patterson currently serves as an alternate on the commission. John Anderson was appointed to fill the alternate position Patterson will be vacating.
WATER RESTRICTIONS, FIRE BAN LIFTED
Town manager Greg Clifton told council that the water restrictions implemented in Telluride over the summer have officially been lifted. “Everyone pulled together to reduce consumption; it was substantially less than what we had expected,” he said.
Nevertheless, he noted in a memo to council, “The Town of Telluride was precariously close on a couple of occasions this summer to losing its municipal supply. This will be one of those time periods in our history where many will never grasp the severity of the situation simply because the crisis did not materialize. The restless nights, however, were many for those who evaluated the numbers and watched the rapidly shrinking stream flows.”
In a public hearing, council also repealed an emergency ordinance imposing a ban on open fires and fireworks and restricted smoking within the Town of Telluride. The ordinance had been enacted in June in response to drought conditions and threat of wildfire.
The Town of Telluride has a new employee, in the person of Anna Claire Davis. Davis joined town staff as an intern earlier this year, and has now been hired as an entry-level planning tech assistant. She will continue to occupy the front desk at Rebekah hall on a permanent basis.
“She has a great skill set,” said Interim Building and Planning Director Michelle Haines. “She is youthful, energetic and incredibly intelligent. She’s the kind of employee we like to have.”