Grants buoy Winter Park 2021 budget
Winter Park is budgeting cautiously for 2021, anticipating effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, while also investing in a new transit maintenance facility.
On Tuesday, the town council discussed next year’s budget with the intent of adopting it on Dec. 1. Though the town did see budget impacts from the pandemic, Winter Park is headed into 2021 with around $7 million in the general fund.
“When COVID hit we made a lot of cuts to our capital spending and our decrease in tax wasn’t as much as anticipated so we’re actually finishing this year ahead of where we projected,” explained Finance Director Lizbeth Lemley.
Also helping the town’s budget are several grants for the transit fund and specifically the transit maintenance facility.
“This year our largest source of funding for the town is going to be state and local intergovernmental agreements, which includes grants,” Lemley said, noting taxes are the second largest revenue source.
The town is still preparing to see lower sales tax through the winter months compared to last year, but will see slightly increased property taxes and Lemley forecasts additional funding from the real estate transfer tax (RETT).
Next year’s biggest expenditure is the transit maintenance facility and finishing the new public works facility. Lemley said the town is budgeting for a $7 million debt issuance for the transit building, as well as anticipating increased insurance costs.
“As far as all of our other expenses, we’ve really tried to keep them flat year over year,” she said. “We will have to continually monitor this budget as we get into the year and see our returns through the first quarter.”
Other expenses in the 2021 budget include infrastructure for the second phase of the town’s deed restricted housing, Hideaway Junction, improvements to the Vasquez Creek riverwalk and replacement equipment for public works and the police department.
The budget was continued to the Dec. 1 meeting, where the council will vote on adoption.
In other business:
• A council workshop fleshed out what Winter Park marijuana regulations may be approved soon after voters passed a special 5% sales tax in November. Proposed regulations would allow medical and retail sales, with four dispensary licenses in town and one hospitality license. A hospitality license would allow for a consumption lounge, which received mixed support from council members. Marijuana businesses would only be allowed in DC or C-1 districts and would be required to be a quarter mile from any other marijuana businesses. Council members also voiced a desire to regulate how close the businesses could be to US Highway 40.
• Town code regarding alcohol licensing was updated to align with new state laws. When Winter Park is no longer in an emergency declaration, liquor license holders will be able to continue delivering alcohol. The town is also now able to collect fines or fees for license violations.
• Council approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation for a $263,126 grant for the transit fund. The grant is matched federally and no local funding is needed.
• Council also approved an agreement with Mountain States Snowcats for winter trail grooming this season, not to exceed $28,000.
• Final plats for The Reserve at Lakota and Northwoods at Lakota were approved, along with a development improvement agreement for The Reserve.
• Council approved another development improvement agreement for the Village Way Lofts.
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A winter epidemic infecting the nation’s northern states is causing headaches for many public works officials.