Winter Park planned ahead for current downturn
November 18, 2008
In Winter Park, sales tax revenue for 2008 is down through September compared to last year, but Winter Park was not caught off guard. The numbers fit the town’s budget forecasts.
“It’s not unexpected,” said Winter Park Finance Director Shawn Cordsen.
September marked the seventh consecutive month of declining revenue, compared to the previous year, according to a staff report prepared by Cordsen for Tuesday morning’s Winter Park Town Council meeting.
Year to date, retail sales report the largest declines in sales tax collections, he wrote, while the ski area and lodging continue to report gains.
In September, retail sales tax was down 38.71 percent and restaurant/bar was down 45 percent.
“We’re seeing double digit declines,” Cordsen said. “But as long as ski season comes through … that’s our Christmas.”
The total number of building permits issued this year to date in Winter Park/Fraser is holding steady, but the kind of permits people are applying for has shifted, according to a report to the town council by Harold Howland, building official with the Winter Park/Fraser Building Department.
“There’s less new construction and more remodels,” Howland said.
The dollar valuation of building permits in Winter Park is down more than $20 million from last year.
In 2007 at this time, Winter Park issued 91 building permits compared to the 2008 number ” 94. In Fraser, 95 building permits were issued through November. This year, to date, the number is only 33.
Construction continues on Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park. On Tuesday, crews worked toward completion of public bathrooms.
Neighbor complaints over the brightness of the night lighting at the park has officials examining a possible change in the angle of the 30-foot lights used to illuminate the sledding hill, firepits and other public gathering places in the park until 10 p.m.
Russ Chameroy, public works director, told the town council Tuesday that he and his crew will work to keep the U.S. Highway 40 entrance of Hideaway Park near the bus stop clear of snow this winter. His crew will also work to keep the newly constructed social areas around the firepits open.
Clearing snow from streets and intersections will remain a priority through the winter, he said, but the park will be added into the schedule as a third priority whenever possible.
Beetle kill mitigation
Councilor Katie Riemenschneider brought up the mandatory beetle kill mitigation ordinance under discussion by the Fraser town council, asking if it would be appropriate for Winter Park.
After brief discussion, the council agreed it preferred the town’s current policy to “subsidize, not mandate” beetle kill mitigation on private property.
Winter Park/Fraser Police Chief Glen Trainor told the town council his staff is investigating two cases of vandalism that took place last week at the construction site of the new recreation center in Fraser and at the base village of the Winter Park Ski Resort.
At the Fraser recreation center site, tires were flattened, he said. At the resort, as much as $50,000 in damage was done to fiber optic cables.
“We don’t have any leads,” Trainor said.
The Winter Park Town Council unanimously approved a liquor license for the Star of India restaurant set to open this winter in Cooper Creek Square, Suite 221-224, in Winter Park.