GUEST COMMENTARY | State of the Town Address-Jan. 8, 2013
by Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser
Jan 22, 2013 | 1166 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

2012, on the surface appeared to be a strong turnaround year.  Revenue exhibited positive growth, there were more development applications, tourism was strong and special events and festivals performed extremely well.  Although the numbers don’t fit within the five step recession plan range we have in place, they actually exceed on the revenue side, we are still staying conservative on our projections for 2013.  Related to that recession plan, we repositioned it from the fourth stage (major) to the third stage (significant) level.  Basically, it means that the Council will continue to evaluate very carefully the large expenditures and projects.  Our hiring freeze is still in effect. 

 

From a revenue perspective, sales tax was light though the first quarter of the year but picked up substantially in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters.  July, August, September and October were record months -- bigger than at any other time in Telluride history. June and November were the second biggest on record. Through November we are 3.67% ahead of 2011 which was the largest sales tax year on record.  If December is equal to last year, or greater, 2012 will be the greatest sales tax year on record.  Snow was light again in November and December.  Real Estate Transfer Tax is still quite erratic and yet October was the second largest RETT month to date. We exceeded our annual budget for this very important category by seven hundred thousand dollars.  Building applications are coming back as well – we are projected to issue about 115 in 2012.  This number is consistent with last year, and certainly above what we were seeing during the recession years. 

 

The summer season was the healthiest revenue season ever.  As a recap: Bluegrass sold out for 2012 and 2013, Blues and Brews also sold out, The Ride brought in between 3,500 and 4,000 viewers each day, US Pro Cycling Challenge, although short on numbers, definitely heightened our exposure national and internationally.  Our Festivals and Special Events are healthy and providing us with a foundation upon which we can build more sustainability into our future.  While we are having challenging discussions about the scarcity of weekend space for future events, it should be noted that Telluride’s summer festival season continues to be the envy of towns throughout Colorado.  Our summer revenues are as strong as our winter ski season revenues.  That is remarkable.

 

After 20+ years, Idarado and Telluride have come to agreement on a Comprehensive Settlement Agreement for the Bridal Veil water system for placement of the Town’s water treatment plant, shared maintenance on the collection system and shared water usage.  This is a landmark decision and it took collaboration and compromise on both sides.  Much of the infrastructure work in the Bridal Veil basin was accomplished this year and 2013 will bring about the construction of the Water Treatment Plant itself with an end date in mid 2014.  The Telluride valley will now have storage and clean water for decades to come and will avoid the severe water shortage issues we faced in drought years like 2012 with our existing water sources.  While there are indeed financial challenges related to the completion of this project, we will deal with those challenges as we have dealt with others.   

 

The Historic Survey and HARC Design Standards are also nearing completion and should be completed in 2013.  These projects have been ongoing since 2008.  The recession delayed them but they are nearing completion. 

 

The Town Park was offered $750,000 from the Film Festival to move the Town Park Pavilion into the true multi-use aspect that was originally envisioned.  This along with roughly $1,000,000 from the Capital Fund will help this facility become a very popular special event center.  The town is investing $190,000 into the West End Community Solar Garden as well as buying Renewable Energy Credits from the Bridal Veil Power Plant.  We will also be putting a Hydro Power component to the Pandora Water Treatment plant that will help us offset approximately 40% of the Town Government’s energy usage.  The Primrose Hillside which is a public/private partnership has been approved and will be completed in 2013. 

 

Through an agreement with Time Warner we have greatly improved the transmission of Telluride TV’s service to the community and also have made live streaming of council meetings and the taping of the Mayor’s monthly update even more effective. The Main Street Enhancement Task Force, along with the Merchant’s Association, are working with town government to make our downtown even more user friendly. We assisted with additional holiday lights and trees, to help kick off the new “Holiday Prelude.”  Because of the growing popularity of New Year’s Eve in downtown Telluride we added a midnight fireworks exhibit along with other features that will assist the growing crowd to enjoy this very special Telluride event.  We have been working closely with CCAASE and the Parks and Recreation Commission to help balance out our special events in Telluride so that big events do not over run smaller events. 

 

Although no new attainable housing has been built since Gold Run, we will continue to plan for future projects.  In December, The Gold Run Child Care facility which is being operated by Telluride Pre-School opened its doors to children from the regional community. We have spent a great deal of time in 2012 making sure that in 2013 we can move closer to finalizing the Pearl Property opportunities and moving to the next step on the Telluride Science Research Center.  We are hoping that the Four Corners planning will also begin moving ahead.  

 

Paul Ruud has assumed the Director position of Public Works.  Paul has 25 years of experience in Telluride and we are all pleased that he brings so much energy and experience to that extremely important department.   Karen Guglielmone is now heading up a new division created in the Public Works Department –Environment & Engineering.  She has been tasked with overseeing the Pandora project, and we are benefitting from her expertise and skills.  In the Finance Department we have put in place Muni Revs, which gives all of us a much more defined look at revenue sources on a daily basis.  This will allow us to actually value what a specific event provides to our community in revenue. 

 

Within the Town Attorney’s department we have seen major efforts culminate in settlement agreements and cases won related to the following legal issues:  Pandora Water Treatment Plant, Bridal Veil Basin junior water rights cases, Water Rights Cases submitted by Montrose County, Nucla/Naturita and Norwood and procedural defects in licensing of the Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill. 

 

Just a few weeks ago, MJ Schillaci received the Colorado Municipal Clerk’s Association 2012 Award for Outstanding Contributions by a Clerk to Her Municipality Award and Greg Clifton; our Town Manager received the Manager of the Year from the Colorado Municipal League. 

 

Personal Comments:  It has been a fascinating year.  The town council is functioning well.  Staff is, as always, responsive to our direction while providing us with a highly educated and motivated team.  We are working with a single minded purpose of serving the community of Telluride.  The many challenges still facing us are large, but attainable.  We are focused on achieving goals and objectives.  Those overriding goals and objectives remain to be: Preservation of Community, Cultivation of Economic Development and a Successful Commercial Core, Addressing Critical Infrastructure Needs and Implementation of our Environmental Action Agenda.  As your mayor, my message to you is, get involved and help us to continue to make Telluride the best place in the world to live. Thank you for the twelve years you have allowed me to participate in the evolution of Telluride.  I hope I have met your needs.

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