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The Buena Vista (BV) Board of Trustees met Tuesday, October 10 to set public hearings for the 2024 budget, hear an update on Buena Vida Wine and Spirits, and approve a letter of support for a river valley park improvement project.

Board Sets Public Hearings for 2024 Town Budget

Town Treasurer Phillip Puckett provided an overview for the Board of the draft 2024 budget. Puckett invited the Board of Trustees and members of the public to review the draft and ask questions. The full meeting recording is available on YouTube. The discussion of the budget begins around the 1:05:34 mark.

Puckett provided a summary of each fund as of the October 10 meeting:

  • General Fund: Balanced.
  • Capital Improvement Fund: $67,900 over budget.
  • Water Fund: Balanced.
  • Airport Fund: $12,191 deficit.
  • Street fund: Balanced.
  • Conservation Trust Fund: Balanced with a $9,000 surplus.
  • Marijuana Special Revenue Fund: Balanced with a $70,000 surplus (could be transferred to the Capital Improvement Fund to reduce the deficit for capital projects).

Puckett is also tracking official public requests for money, including $1,800 for the Stage and Rail Trail (approved by the Board and included in the budget), $15,000 requested by BV Heritage (not approved or included in the budget), and an indeterminate amount that could be requested for additional work on the Legacy Stage (not included in the budget yet).

Specific details and breakdowns of the 2024 draft budget begin on page 82 of the meeting packet.

2024 Ending Fund Balance Projection from Page 84 of the October 10 meeting packet.

Puckett clarified assumptions used in the budget’s calculation. “Just to reiterate again some of the assumptions that are included in here. We do have a 3 percent increase in sales tax projected,” explained Puckett. “For the town’s portion of our mill levy, we are bound by a revenue increase, and so we’re looking at about a seven percent increase year-to-year on our property tax revenue amount, and so we will temporarily reduce our mill levy to align with that revenue cap.”

“So between the modest sales tax increase, seven percent increase on the property tax side, you can kind of see where, with expenses of operating capital going up, we’re kind of squeezed a little bit, especially on our capital transfer,” concluded Puckett.

After hearing the details, the Board voted unanimously to schedule the public hearings regarding the budget. The public can attend the Trustee meetings on the following dates to provide public comment on the record regarding the 2024 budget:

  • Tuesday, October 24
  • Tuesday, November 14
  • Tuesday, November 28
  • Tuesday, December 12

Buena Vida presentation slide from the BV Trustee October 10 meeting packet.

Buena Vida Wine and Spirits Provides Update on Construction

Buena Vida Wine and Spirits originally received liquor license approval in 2022. Mark Krasnow provided an update to the Board of Trustees on the progress of construction and explained that he would almost certainly be returning to request an extension to the license.

Krasnow explained that the proposed design timeline was eighteen weeks, but in reality, it took fifty-two weeks. After receiving a liquor license, a business needs to be up and running within two years. Krasow explained that there was “no way we’re going to meet the deadline.”

He expressed frustration over slower-than-expected progress but says he is optimistic that the shop will be able to open in fall 2024. While a request for an extension was not on the table at Tuesday’s meeting, Krasnow said the Board should expect one in the future.

Board Approves Letter of Support for Upper Arkansas River Valley Park Improvement Project

The Board voted unanimously to sign a letter of support for a shared project in conjunction with the City of Salida and the county. The next step in receiving the grant funds is a letter executed by the City of Salida, Town of Buena Vista, and the Chaffee County Community Foundation.

The letter to be signed explains that the project proposal has received full approval from the involved municipalities. The funding will cover smaller projects for the Salida and Buena Vista river parks and the Chaffee County Community Foundation serves as the primary applicant responsible for grant tracking and reporting.

Public Comment

Sarah Kuhn, a member of the Tree Advisory Board, spoke again on SDCEA’s proposed vegetation and wildfire mitigation plan. Kuhn thanked the Board of Trustees for passing the new ordinance but suggested the move was not going to be enough to protect trees in town.

Kuhn said that the Tree Board purchased tree plotter inventory software and calculated that less than 5 percent of trees that may be cut by SDCEA are on public property, leaving the remainder on private property. “It remains in question what citizens can actually do to make sure trees don’t get cut on private property,” said Kuhn.

She concluded by explaining that she had no answers right now and encouraged the Board to continue considering the topic.

Letitia Pryor and and business partner Nicole spoke about the upcoming “makerspace” they are bringing to Buena Vista. Called BV Made. it will be a space where people can come together and share tools for the industrial arts. The partners hope to get grant funding in the future. They added that they want to potentially move closer to town, but want to prove the soundness of the idea before requesting financial support.

The space will focus on welding and woodworking to start. Businesses will be able to benefit too by collectively purchasing specialty equipment that may be too expensive for just one business, to be housed at BV Made and shared between the businesses who helped purchase it.

Staff Reports and Consent Agenda

Police Chief Dean Morgan delivered the staff report for the Buena Vista Police Department (BVPD). He reported that homecoming events went smoothly, and that residents should anticipate East Main remaining closed for longer than usual on Halloween. After the Halloween parade, East Main will be kept closed to improve safety as children go trick or treating at businesses downtown.

The fire chief report was delivered by Chaffee County Fire Protection District Board Vice President Tom Navarrette. Navarrette explained the Chaffee Fire Board had decided to forego having an interim fire chief while they search for a replacement.

“We’ve decided as a Board to not have Kent [Maxwell] be our interim fire chief at this time,” said Navarrette. “We feel that we can function correctly in the way that we want to and still be able to get through this process of finding our new chief and still be able to offer the services. We have plenty of people as department heads in our department that are capable of doing their jobs and continue forward and still have good communication with town and the rest of the county.”

Navarrette addressed town concerns about raised costs for Chaffee County Fire Protection District services, explaining that additional funds are necessary for Chaffee Fire to function.

Navarrette cited the need to raise wages to competitively pay employees and provide stronger incentives for volunteers. He added that taller buildings and narrow spaces between them are also providing challenges for current firefighting equipment, likely requiring the purchase of new equipment.

When asked by Mayor Libby Fay about a potential mill levy increase hitting the ballot for Chaffee Fire, Navarrette explained it had been discussed, but they had never asked for one in the past and have no plans to do so in the near future.

Planning Director Joel Benson provided an overview of his department. Planning is fully moved into their new space in BVPD’s previous location, recently getting the heat up and running. The final plat section for the major subdivision known as The Crossing is expected soon, along with preliminary plats for Homestead and South Main.

Public Works Director Shawn Williams reported that unaccounted water usage has been reduced to 11 percent, a number they’ve been hoping to achieve for a while. On Monday, October 16, a block on Main Street will be closed for construction work on CKS and Buena Viking’s new location.

Williams described the closure as a “pretty significant impact” and anticipates the work will take approximately one week. A detour is in place and the sidewalk will be accessible only on the south side of the street.

The consent agenda for the meeting was approved unanimously. It included a resolution granting an easement to Public Service Company of Colorado and a resolution approving the renewal of the retail marijuana store license for Forage Buena Vista.

The Board adjourned to an executive session “to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, develop a strategy for negotiations, and/or instruct negotiators, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(e), and to receive legal advice on specific legal questions, pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(b), regarding potential annexation of certain property into Town.”

The next regular meeting of the Buena Vista Board of Trustees is set for 7:00 p.m. on October 24.