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At the Tuesday, October 24 Buena Vista Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, trustees directed staff to draft a ballot question to be added to the April municipal election. The question will ask the public to vote on changing the municipal election date from April to November to align with the county consolidated elections. Additionally, it will adjust the terms of trustees on the board after the April election to allow for this adjustment.

Also looking ahead at 2024, the public hearing for the 2024 Town Budget continued during the October 24 meeting. The public hearing for the 2024 Town Budget will continue during the next regular BV BOT meeting on Tuesday, November 14

Changing BV Municipal Elections from April to November

Photo courtesy and Joshua_J Woroniecki

Changing the date of an election requires a vote of the people explained BV Town Clerk Paula Barnett who requested the Board direct Town Attorney Jeff Parker and staff to draft a potential ballot question to change the date of BV municipal elections and extend terms to allow for that change.

According to Barnett, there are 273 municipalities in Colorado, most of which coordinate their elections with the county clerk. In Chaffee County, Salida already coordinates elections with the county, such as in the upcoming November 7 election.

Changing the date for Buena Vista’s election will allow the County Clerk and their staff to handle Buena Vista elections and take the pressure off of town staff for regular elections. Special elections would still be handled by the town.

“I don’t see any reason not to do it,” commented Mayor Libby Fay.

“I don’t know why this wasn’t done a long time ago,” agreed Trustee Devin Rowe.

Town Attorney Jeff Parker explained that BV elections were set in April because that is the statutory default.

The Board and Town Staff suggested changing the date of the election from April to November and coinciding it with other elections to reduce confusion, make things easier for Buena Vista voters They also hope it will lead to greater voter turnout for municipal elections.

The BOT voted unanimously to direct staff to draft language for a ballot question for the April 2024 election.

2024 Town Budget Public Hearing

The public hearing continues over the 2024 Town Budget. Treasurer Phillip Puckett presented updates to the draft budget, including adjustments made to 2024 projections due to lower-than-expected sales tax revenue for August this year.

The proposed budget begins on page 139 of the meeting packet, which is available online. Budget materials are also available through the website and in print at Town Hall.

August sales tax came in seven percent below projected budget. Puckett explained this caused a ripple effect in the 2024 budget, reducing the general fund by $70,000 and the street fund by $3,000.

Puckett reviewed other changes, including the removal of a $10,000 placeholder for fire mitigation and public support because no requests had been made for that funding. A $4,000 placeholder for interns was also removed.

The transfer from the general to the capital fund was reduced from $318,000 to $279,000 and the airport fund was increased by $12,000 to balance the fund.

Puckett explained that money was also transferred from the marijuana special revenue fund to keep capital projects funded.

The 2024 Ending Fund Balance from the BV BOT October 24, 2023 meeting packet.

Overall, the Board noticed a tightening of the budget, though Puckett said the ending fund balance still looked great with no drastic changes.

Puckett also explained that a five percent increase in water rates and water fees was plugged in to calculate the budget due to the results of a 2022 study. He said the Board would see this in detail when the fee structure is brought to them at the end of November.

The increase in fees would become effective January 1, though the Board did discuss potentially pushing it farther out to allow for more outreach and communication with residents.

Two projects that came in after the packet was created were the Walton Loop Stage 2, and additional requests for the Legacy Stage. Buena Vista Event Cooperative’s (BVEC) Chris Martin made a public comment requesting consideration for those improvements to the Legacy Stage in McPhelemy Park.

The Legacy Stage in McPhelemy Park features live music during Independence Day celebrations. Photo by Carly Winchell

Martin requested several items including:

  • $10,000 for handicapped parking and a sidewalk from parking to the restrooms.
  • $1,000 to clean up parking from the bathroom to the bridge.
  • $3,000 for free Wi-Fi in the park to allow concert attendees to take and upload videos.
  • $4,000 for a permanent ADA ramp to the stage or $1,800 for a temporary ramp.
  • $3,750 for performance lights.
  • Between $21,000 and $25,000 for sun shading.

Martin also mentioned installing multiple benches, landscaping around the stage, and gutters for rainstorms.

Trustee Peter Hylton-Hinga expressed concern over tightening revenues and suggested focusing on projects that have benefits and utility beyond just the Legacy Stage, such as the sidewalks and handicapped parking.

Fay suggested a $20,000 placeholder in the budget to cover parking spaces and the ramp. Puckett indicated the topic would be included in the next discussion of the budget.

During Trustee/Staff Interaction at the end of the meeting, Recreation Director Shane Basford returned the discussion to the Legacy Stage funding requests. He suggested a need for more research and planning before committing to improvements at the request of a community member.

The Board and staff also expressed disinterest in public Wi-Fi for the park. “Town does not do public Wi-Fi,” said Puckett. “That’s not a thing anymore.”

Overall, Basford highlighted the importance of evaluating priorities and determining what fell within the Town’s scope concerning the park and the stage. He emphasized that the stage was built primarily with community contributions and would not have been built otherwise because it wasn’t a priority for the Town.

Basford did explain there was about $4,000 left for the stage with one invoice still open and that they were going to take care of some requests with the remaining 2023 funds.

The next regular meeting for the Buena Vista Board of Trustees is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. November 17 by Zoom or in person at the BV Community Center’s Piñon Room.

View the full meeting packet and agendas online for Buena Vista Trustee meetings at Videos of the Trustee meetings are also posted to the Town’s YouTube page. The October 24 meeting is available here.