MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – When the summer season ramps up in May, Mountain Village will welcome back two of its long-standing community programs. The community’s Owners Association board voted last week to keep Dial-A-Ride and the Sunset Concert Series going through this summer, despite budgetary woes.
Both DAR and the Summer Concert Series will undergo changes as TMVOA takes the two services into the future.
Last Wednesday, the Telluride Mountain Village Owner’s Association (TMVOA) board agreed to fund DAR for six months, keeping alive the free transit service by providing up to $120,000 for operations May 22 through October. It also unanimously agreed to continue to fund the Sunset Concert Series, but with a scaled-back schedule that will help cut down on costs and encourage more local bands to take the stage.
Wednesday’s meeting provided at least temporary closure to two funding questions that have been on TMVOA’s table for some time.
DAR has historically been funded and operated by the town of Mountain Village, but due to budgetary constraints, Mountain Village Town Council voted to terminate funding at the end of the 2012-2013 ski season. This left the future of the free taxi service in limbo, and TMVOA sent out a survey asking its members how they felt about funding it through the Owner’s Association. TMVOA also hired consultant Gary Suitor to analyze the program, and he came up with two options that the board discussed – heatedly at times – in their meeting last week.
One option placed a limit of 30 free rides per address within Mountain Village. If an address were to exceed 30 rides, a fee would be charged for each ride thereafter. That option would have cost TMVOA between $85,000 and $90,000.
Ultimately, the board opted to go with the more-inclusive option, which does not put a limit on rides yet does change the service slightly in that it stipulates publicizing suggested gratuity for drivers. DAR will otherwise remain free to riders and be available on demand within Mountain Village, running concurrently with the gondola schedule seven days a week, 7 a.m. to midnight starting May 22, and closing when the gondola shuts down in October.
TMVOA president Jeff Proteau said the board looked at the results of the survey, as well as the data provided by Suitor that compared similar programs in places like Beaver Creek, Snowmass Village, and Arrowhead, and decided to fund it at the higher level. However, TMVOA plans to revisit the question at the end of the summer.
“We looked very closely at all the data… and at the end of the day we voted in favor of funding it for six months. We want to go through these six months, learn from that experience, and go from there,” Proteau said.
TMVOA will put the service out to bid to private local operators. The board also expressed its belief that the Town of Mountain Village should continue to administer the program as it has in the past, since TMVOA doesn’t have the staffing to do so. “We’ll have to sit down with the Town and figure out the willingness on their part,” Proteau said.
In another effort to realize savings, TMVOA agreed to fund the annual Sunset Concert Series at a lower cost to the organization, which will save nearly $40,000 from what had been budgeted in the past.
Eight concerts are scheduled for this summer, every Wednesday from June 26-Aug. 2, with cost savings coming from booking three local bands. The owner’s association will also fund the annual Red, White, and Blues Concert, traditionally held July 3, but will shave $2,000 off what was budgeted for that event. The concerts will be booked and put on by AllPhases production company, and will still feature five nationally recognized acts.
“We’re working very hard to maintain the quality that people have become accustomed to” in past shows, Proteau said.
The organization will also realize additional savings, to the tune of $7,000, because the Telluride Ski and Golf Company has agreed to donate the use of its Sunset Plaza stage for the event.