At Tuesday night’s meeting, the last of the year, council welcomed Polly Gallagher, Executive Director of Grand County Library District. Gallagher gave an overview of the past year’s activities and accomplishments at the library.
“Our mission is to provide boundless opportunities,” said Gallagher. She explained their strategic plan focused on people, place and platform. “People used to look at the library as a repository for books. A lot of things are happening here. We are a resource for education, personal growth and recreation.”
In 2019, the library added an online subscription to The Denver Post, access to Rosetta Stone language tools, 3,370 books to their collection (both digital and print) and implemented an online ticketing system for Access Grand, the library program that offers free access to many of the activities found in Grand County and the front range.
By the numbers, since January 2019, Grand County libraries report:
- 114,325 visitors to the libraries
- 1,249 new library card holders
- 1,650 reference questions answered
- 131,675 items checked out
- 842 readers in the Summer Reading Program (SRP) and 1,269 participants in SRP programs
- 5,114 participants in storytimes across the districts
- 341 people in opportunities for creative expressions
- 794 visits to after school programs offering activities, homework help, and creative opportunities
Library programs continue to grow and expand. “What an opportunity we have with our libraries,” said Gallagher, adding, “Thank you for having us.”
Special Event Permits
Council unanimously approved two applications for Special Event Permits.
- Winter Park Resort’s Torchlight Parade, at the base of the resort on December 24th features a bonfire, caroling, skier/snowcat parade, fireworks and a visit from Santa.
- Winter Park & Fraser Chamber of Commerce’s New Year’s Eve celebration at the Rendezvous Event Center goes from 7 – 10 pm on December 31, 2019. The event will feature sledding, hot chocolate, fireworks at 9 pm and a silent disco on the stage
2019 Budget Revisions
Finance and Human Resources Director Lizbeth Lemley presented Ordinance 528, appropriating additional sums of money for expenses in excess of the 2019 budget to council for approval. The funds would be used as follows:
- The Transit & Trails Fund by $150,000 to cover the Town’s responsibility for repair expenses as required by the contract with First Transit.
- The Law Enforcement Fund by $140,000 for the costs associated with the new Police Department office buildout.
- The Employee Benefit Fund by $10,000 for claims payments projected through the end of the year.
No public comment was heard and council approved the revisions unanimously.
Commercial Enhancement Grant extension
On September 18, 2018, Uptripping, LLC applied for and received a Commercial Enhancement Grant for $11,000 on behalf of all owners of Winter Park Center to upgrade the current outdated multi-tenant sign along Main Street (concept plan attached). The work was to be completed by the end of 2019 but due to the current building boom and unanticipated early snowfall, they were unable to complete the sign improvements. Shannon Henn, owner of Uptripping, had requested an extension into 2020 to complete the improvements.
Council approved an extension, through December 2020, for Winter Park Center to complete the project.
Public Works Facility Guaranteed Maximum Price
Public Works Director Gerry Vernon had submitted Resolution 1738, approving the Public Works Facility Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) to council for approval. In his submission, Vernon explained that Winter Park staff has been working on the construction documents related to the construction of the new public works facility for the last several months. Working with GSG Architects and Saunders Construction, the design team finalized the details for construction of the building following the Council’s preferred design alternatives.
The initial construction estimate at the design development stage was $10,910,496. After completing their bid processes for sub-contractors, Saunders submitted the revised guaranteed maximum price of $11,396,437. This not-to-exceed price is $485,941 higher than the price at the design development stage, but reflects the true estimated cost of construction.
Vernon noted that the GMP of $11,396,437 is $155,347 lower than the first revision of the original estimated GMP of $11,550,784. The cost savings were from value engineering the fire suppression system, redesign of the administration roof, and reducing the amount of export soils to be retained on site.
The largest increase in the cost estimates from the design development stage concerns the site improvements necessary to support the functionality of the new building. The site work components now exceed $3,000,000. The fire suppression system to meet current fire code is estimated to cost in excess of $600,000. Other subsurface construction costs also exceeded original design estimates. Overall, the building cost had been reduced to around the $8,000,000 mark.
Vernon remarked that Town staff continues to work with Saunders to bring the costs down. The contract with Saunders states that any cost savings attained by better than expected construction conditions and/or additional value engineering will be returned to the Town.
The GMP proposal establishes a project close-out date of January 14, 2021, requiring temporary facility leases to be extended to provide for that contingency.
Council approved the resolution unanimously.
Grand Places 2050 MOU
Town Manager Keith Riesberg introduced Resolution 1739, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to participate in Grand Places 2050. Riesberg described it as long range planning. Grand Places 2050 was kicked off by the Forest Service and Winter Park Resort and had grown to 14 participating entities. “The MOU simply asks the Town to commit to be a party and be a part in the planning process,” said Riesberg. The Town will also serve as the fiscal agent to receive grants, financial contributions and hire professional services. $1,500 has also been budgeted to continue planning efforts in 2020.
Council approved the resolution unanimously.
Ehlers & Associates Investment Services
Finance Director Lizbeth Lemley presented Resolution 1740, a contract with Ehlers & Associates, Inc, to provide Investment Advisory Services to the Town. Lemley explained, in preparation for the anticipated sale of Certificates of Participation (COP’s) to fund the new Public Works Facility staff was presented with an Investment Advisor proposal from the Town’s Municipal Advisor Ehlers. After the sale of the COP’s, proceeds will be deposited with the trustee, UMB Bank. UMB Bank, as trustee, will place the funds in a pooled investment account and dispense to the Town as expenses are incurred. Assigning an Investment Advisor will allow directed investment of the funds to maximize earnings in the currently declining interest rate environment. All investments would be required to comply with Colorado State Statute 24-750-601 and would be monitored regularly to ensure compliance and the Town would approve recommended investments. Assets under the management of Ehlers would be subject to an annualized fixed rate fee of .12%.
Council approved the resolution unanimously.
Voluntary Collection Agreement
Lemley explained that on October 1, 2019, Homeaway.com, Inc. (VRBO) and Airbnb, Inc. ceased allowing hosts to include applicable home-rule municipality sales tax rate in transactions with renters. This change followed the passage of HB 19-1240 requiring state administered taxes be collected and remitted to the state on these transactions. Home-rule municipality sales taxes are not state-administered, but rather are self-collected.
Prior to October 1, 2019, these platforms allowed hosts in home-rule municipalities to charge the applicable sales tax to renters and passed the collected sales tax through to the hosts. The hosts filed their sales tax reports and remitted the tax to the Town.
With this change, hosts are either (a) responsible for paying the tax out of their proceeds or (b) contacting the renter after the booking to request an additional 7%.
Many short-term rental owners located within the Town of Winter Park have reached out
to staff to express their concern and confusion with this new process. Additionally, staff had
concerns that this practice had potential to negatively impact the collection and remittance of sales tax on short-term rentals facilitated through these platforms. Staff discussed the issue with other home-rule municipalities and learned most had entered into or were entering into Voluntary Collection Agreements with these companies. The agreements place the responsibility of collecting and remitting taxes to home rule municipalities with Homeaway.com and Airbnb.
Town staff believes executing these agreements will not only provide consistency in the calculation and remittance of sales tax for transactions entered into on these platforms, but would also increase collections, as the Town would immediately begin collecting sales tax on properties that have not been remitting sales tax previously.
Council approved Resolution 1741, approving Voluntary Collection Agreements, unanimously.
COP bidding war bodes well for financing
During the Manager’s Report, Town Manager Keith Riesberg asked the Town’s financial advisor , Jim Mann, to give an overview of the Certificates of Participation (COP) activity that took place that day. Mann told council, “It’s always good to show up on a day like today.”
In total, 12 bidders had interest to submit bids for the COP. BNY Mellon of New York was selected, at a rate of 2.347% interest. He told council that growth and development, along with the Town’s strong financial condition, maintaining healthy reserves and sales tax revenues was all very positive. The biggest negative is the town falling in the category of resort community. $1.4 billion in property with little over 1,000 residences in a community perceived to be dependent on winter recreational activity is not an ideal. But in the end, the bids came in very positively.
The Town anticipated annual payments of $765K to repay the COP over twenty years. With the final numbers in, that number will be closer to $730K.
Mayor Jimmy Lahrman stated, “We have always been fiscally responsible. It has been a win/win between council and staff to get us where we are today.”
Riesberg added, “One final wrap up. I want to thank Jim and Ehlers. The bids were very competitive, which is great for the town and within parameters. No further action is required to continue on progressing toward closing of this financing. I am pleased to see the results. The fact that we received 12 bids speaks volumes.”
Councilman Art Ferrari observed, “The low cost of interest is protecting us from the high cost of construction.”
Winter Park Town Council meetings are held the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 pm in Town Hall. To learn more, visit wpgov.com.