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Hi-Lonesome Boutique and other new businesses along East Main Street in Buena Vista. Photo by Carly Winchell

In addition to approving a 50-acre-feet deal with the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, the Buena Vista (BV) Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a retail liquor license in a public hearing and discussed a drafted policy change, which could potentially save Chaffee County-based nonprofits money on town facility rentals for events.

Hi-Lonesome Boutique Retail Liquor License Public Hearing

The BV BOT approved Hi-Lonesome Boutique’s requested retail liquor license. This type of license is significantly limited with many rules for the establishment to follow, including guidelines on how often and at what times alcoholic drinks can be provided.

HB-23-1061 expanded art gallery liquor permits to encompass other types of retail establishments. It allows retailers to serve complimentary alcoholic beverages for up to 24 days a year. Under this type of license, no alcoholic beverages may be sold and no entrance fees or cover charges can be charged when serving alcohol.

Mayor Libby Fay verified that Hi-Lonesome would need to follow all rules related to serving alcohol including checking identification to confirm someone is over 21. She later suggested that Hi-Lonesome Owner Jennifer Cousins take TIPS training to learn more about responsibilities when serving alcohol.

Cousins explained that events where alcohol would be served would be quite small, usually with between 25 and 30 guests. The venue tends to host events that support local artists and musicians. They intend to “card” and provide bracelets to attendees before serving complimentary drinks.

There was no public comment at this hearing and the decision to approve the license was unanimous.

Fee Reduction Policy for Facility Rentals and Special Events Update

Parks and Recreation Director Shane Basford provided an overview to the BOT on a newly drafted fee reduction policy that would benefit Chaffee County nonprofits. The discussion began at the request of the Optimist Club in a November BOT meeting. The new policy seeks to find a balance between local organizations that donate to the town and the fees charged for facility rentals and special events.

The drafted policy states that Chaffee County nonprofits who donate before their event can have certain fees waived. This would reset every calendar year and donations should be for the full amount of the event fees.

Some fees are exempt from this waiver, such as application and expedited application fees. According to Basford this is so organizations still have some stake in the application process to encourage them to apply in a timely manner. Other exempted fees are collected by various town departments, such as the cost of providing additional police presence for an event.

“I think that this was a very fair proposal and realizing that when we reduce fees the town still has costs associated with those events,” said Trustee Cindie Swisher. “I thought this was fair to the nonprofits and people that donate and I thought it was fair for the town.”

This initial discussion of the new policy was a review of the draft. It will return for official approval and adoption at a later meeting.

SDCEA Water Treatment Plant Services Agreement

Trustee Peter Hylton-Hinga recused himself from a discussion of a contract with Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) to install new electric service for the water treatment plant infiltration gallery expansion project. Hylton-Hinga cited potential business dealings between his business and SDCEA and removed himself from the discussion to avoid the appearance of bias.

The contract with SDCEA for the work was approved by the remaining Board members unanimously. The budget impact for the town is just over $50,688.

Vehicle and Equipment Purchases

Town staff received approval from the BOT to purchase fleet vehicles and equipment. These purchases are already accounted for in the budget. In the past, departments have located a vehicle they wanted to purchase and then brought that specific purchase to the board for approval.

According to the packet, “Staff is now seeing that the time it takes to find the vehicle, then come to the Board for approval is about the time it takes for that vehicle to be sold and purchased by another party.” This presumptive approval will allow the town to purchase these needed vehicles quickly without the risk of losing them to another buyer through a lengthy approval process after they’ve been found.

Approval of this request will allow staff to find and purchase a new Town Hall vehicle, new code enforcement vehicle, a water replacement vehicle, and an airport snowplow. Staff will research pricing, contact dealerships and fleet sale services, and consider competitive price quotes before purchasing a vehicle.

The total budget impact for all of the purchases is $158,900.

Consent Agenda and Staff reports

Approval of the consent agenda passed unanimously, which included the minutes from the January 9 BOT meeting and the December 7 meeting of the Beautification Advisory Board and the Town Clerk Report. The Board also reappointed Colleen Deffner as a regular voting member and Diana Weir as an alternate to the Beautification Advisory Board. Roy Gertson, Tony LaGreca, and Rick Bieterman were approved as regular voting members of the Water Advisory Board. Finally, McKenzie Lyle was approved as a regular voting member of the Recreation Advisory Board.

Staff reports were delivered by the town administrator, town treasurer, recreation director, and airport manager.

Town Administrator Brian Berger provided some thoughts regarding the special projects manager position, which included potentially wrapping in some communications and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator duties into the role.

Town Treasurer Phillip Puckett reported that sales tax for November came in at about 4.5 percent over 2022 and October was quite a bit higher as well.

Sales tax comparisons between 2022 and 2023 for the Town of Buena Vista. Courtesy of page 65 of the January 23, 2024 BOT meeting packet.

“It’s good to see a strong finish to the year,” said Puckett. The town of BV’s budget is available for the public to view online here.

A snapshot of grant funding and associated projects from page 64 of the January 23, 2024 BOT meeting packet.

Puckett also delivered the quarterly report. He described the balance sheet and overall cash as solid. For board and public awareness, Puckett included a snapshot of grants and how they’re being used by the town. He also announced that a $2,000,000 More Housing Now grant has gone under contract for The Crossing development’s infrastructure.

In total, the town of BV is working with $13,405,166 in grant funding to support 40 projects.

Recreation Director Shane Basford reported on damage to the Buena Vista Community Center caused by a water leak. All told the leak will require about $52,000 in restoration with a $2,500 deductible for the Town.

Airport Manager Jack Wyles thanked the Mayor for declaring January General Aviation Appreciation Month. Over 2023, almost 10,000 people passed through the airport with 1,700 aircraft in 2023.

Puckett praised Wyles and the airport team for bringing the airport fund balance into the black by watching expenses and generating revenue where possible over the last year.

The full agenda and packet for the January 23 meeting of the Board of Trustees is available online here. The Town also posts the full recordings of meetings to their YouTube channel here.