TELLURIDE – The Town of Telluride is well on its way to another healthy and possibly record sales tax year. Data for the first financial quarter show town coffers to be 10 percent ahead of last year for January, February and March in terms of sales tax income.
January 2013 and February 2013, with $439,156 and $458,983 in sales tax revenues respectively, showed the second highest sales tax revenues for those months ever, while the month of March set a new record at $552,392, compared to $505,321 in 2012.
It’s beginning to look like a nice new trend. While 2012 got off to a light start, it turned out to be Telluride’s greatest sales tax year on record, with funds totaling almost $4.5 million, a 3 percent increase over 2011.
Business licenses in 2013 are ahead so far too, reported Town Finance Director Lynne Beck at last week’s Telluride Town Council meeting, partially because of the town’s recently adopted MUNIRevs system helps track both sales tax and business licenses remittance.
Spending within the various town departments, meanwhile, is “right on for one quarter,” according to Beck’s report. Enterprise funds, as well, are on target for 25 percent of the budget.
The only dim spots in Beck’s report related to property taxes, which, to date, have shown a substantial drop of 20 percent over last year, reflecting the market conditions of appraisals conducted two years ago at the bottom of the real estate slump, and Real Estate Transfer Tax revenues which are coming in below projections so far in 2013.
Contributing to Telluride’s bumper crop of sales tax revenues in the first quarter of 2013 was the addition of the low-cost carrier Allegiant Air to the Colorado Flights Alliance (formerly Telluride- Montrose Regional Air Organization) suite of subsidized airfare into the region. “We would have had a flat number of airline seats had we not had Allegiant, which brought in 4,000 more bodies and contributed to the winter season,” said Councilor Chris Myers.
Those extra bodies significantly boost sales and lodging tax for the town.
Unfortunately, Allegiant has suspended service to the region for the summer season, but Myers said it is hoped that the carrier will serve the Montrose and Telluride region again next winter.
SAN MIGUEL RESOURCE CENTER REPORTS ESCALATION IN VICTIMS SEEKING ASSISTANCE
Council last week proclaimed the month of May to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
In its proclamation, council recognized the efforts of many citizens who are working to provide quality services and assistance to sexual assault survivors by serving as volunteer advocates and staffing the San Miguel Resource Center, a domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center in Telluride. The center receives significant funding from the Town of Telluride.
Melanie Montoya, Co-Executive Director of the San Miguel Resource Center, reported that numbers of sexual assault victim survivors seeking SMRC’s support are dramatically up so far this year. A total of 44 victim survivors sought help in 2011. In 2012, that number crept to 46. In the first quarter of 2013, Montoya reported that 31 victims have already come to the center for sexual assault services.
“It is a silent epidemic and people who are victims and survivors often suffer silently,” she said. “It is really good those people are breaking the silence; that is the biggest step in healing and recovery and breaking the intergenerational cycle.”
Montoya encouraged everyone in SMRC’s service area “to support each other and look out for each other, protect your kids and give them the tools they need to stay safe.”
“It’s a shame you’ve been so successful,” Mayor Stu Fraser wryly observed. “Nobody really thought domestic violence existed here. But it’s so obvious help is necessary.”
RENEWABLE ENERGY PORTFOLIO REQUIREMENT
Council unanimously agreed last week to send a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper voicing support for Senate Bill 252, the Rural Renewable Energy Bill. The bill, sponsored by two Denver Democrats, passed the Senate in early May and now awaits Hickenlooper’s signature. It seeks to double the renewable energy standard for rural power co-ops from 10 to 20 percent by 2020.
A number of rural power providers, as well as the largely coal-fired Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association wholesale electric power supplier, are opposed to the bill, claiming it will cost $2.4 billion to come into compliance. Currently, the bill is a target of significant veto efforts. Council agreed it was important to “flood the governor’s office with support letters” for the bill, and dispatched Town Attorney Kevin Geiger to draft a letter which was signed by Mayor Fraser and sent that same day.
“Without making people do this, it is not going to happen,” said Councilor Bob Saunders. “The $2.4 billion is mostly infrastructure cost; wind generation needs power lines to get energy onto the grid. It’s going to have to happen. We have already exceeded 400 parts per million of carbon in atmosphere.”
COMMENT PERIOD FOR URANIUM LEASES
Councilor Chris Myers reminded council that the Department of Energy has extended its public comment period regarding the expansion of uranium leases in Paradox Valley until May 31.
The draft environmental impact statement can be found online at http://energy.gov/nepa/downloads/eis-0472-draft-programmatic-environmental-impact-statement. Comments may be submitted by mail or electronically via the website or by e-mail at the addresses listed below: U.S. mail: Ray Plieness, PEIS Document Manager Office of Legacy ManagementU.S. Department of Energy, 11025 Dover Street, Suite 1000 Westminster, CO 80021; Web site: http://ulpeis.anl.gov; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
GETTING READY FOR RIDE THE ROCKIES
Preparations are well underway for the Town of Telluride to welcome up to 3,000 cyclists and their supporters in early June, as the town hosts the lead stage of the 28th Annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour.
Hosting the lead stage comes with certain advantages. Many tour participants will spend two nights in Telluride instead of just one, arriving in town on June 7 in order to enjoy pre-event festivities around town on June 8. Early on the morning of June 9, cyclists will depart Telluride and pedal over Lizard Head Pass. The tour ends a week later in Colorado Springs.