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Colorado’s economy still strong, risks still there

DENVER (AP) — High employment and consumer spending are keeping Colorado’s economy strong, but government economists said Friday they’re still watching for slower growth or even a recession in years ahead due to a weakening global economy and trade disputes.

Both legislative and executive branch economists presented their quarterly economic forecasts to the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, charged with crafting the state’s annual budget.

Colorado Politics reported that legislative analysts expect growth to slow in a few years and that current growth is restrained by a tight labor market. Uncertainties over U.S. trade policy and global slowdowns also are factors, they said.

“We’re not forecasting a recession, but risks are elevated,” said economist Meredith Moon.

Gov. Jared Polis’ Office of State Planning and Budgeting estimated that general fund revenue grew by 7.3% in the fiscal year that ended June 30 and would grow 4.1% in fiscal year 2019-20, which began July 1.

State revenues are expected to exceed spending limits set by the constitutional Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by $428 million in 2018-19, by $348 million in 2019-20, and by $552 million the following fiscal year, the office said. The legislative forecast put the 2019-20 surplus at $428 million.

Under TABOR, the 2018-19 surplus is to be refunded by reimbursing municipalities for the state’s senior homestead property tax exemption and by reductions in the state income tax.

TABOR sets an annual income limit that can trigger tax refunds based on a formula that involves population and inflation. Critics say that limit has hurt education and transportation investment. Supporters credit it for the state’s strong economy.

In November, voters will decide whether to allow the state to keep excess revenues permanently. Proposition CC was referred to the ballot by the Democrat-controlled Legislature. A companion measure would direct the state to spend excess revenue on education and roads.

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Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com

ANB Bank to appeal P&Z decision

In July, the Glenwood Springs Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously denied ANB Bank’s proposal to construct a two-story bank/office building in the city’s downtown core.

Thursday, ANB Bank will appeal that decision at city council’s regularly scheduled meeting, which begins at 6:15 p.m. in council chambers located at 101 W. Eighth St. in city hall.

ANB Bank has 32 locations across Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming including one in Glenwood Springs for nearly 30 years.

Currently located at 2624 Grand Ave., ANB Bank plans to relocate from south Glenwood to downtown.

“It’s a pretty inaccessible location, it’s tough for our clients to get down here from downtown and other places and it’s tough for our employees to interact with surrounding businesses,” said Chad Lee, a Balcomb & Green partner who has assisted ANB Bank with its appeal process.

ANB Bank has already purchased the property at 910 Grand Ave.  but will need council’s approval before constructing its new facility.

Two 1915-circa buildings reside on the property ANB bought between the White River National Forest headquarters and Vicki Lee Green Realtors.
Those WWI-era buildings — which ANB Bank plans to demolish to make room for its proposed 9,428 square foot building — house seven small businesses including: KC’s Wing House, Tesseract Comics & Games, Jewels & Gems, Bellini’s Fashion, CPA Services Pro, Inc., Glenwood Spa N Nails and Glenwood Escape Room.

According to Community Bank President Randy Diers, ANB has offered assistance to all seven businesses being displaced.

“The package we’ve put forth to help them in a time of transition [is] 12 months of free rent, free utilities and the ability to save as they plan and make the move,” Diers said. “And, for those that may leave before the May 30, 2020 lease extension, a cash payment for the difference.”

Diers said that a couple of the businesses had given notice that they would relocate beginning in October.

“The building is going to start to go dark,” Diers added.
At its July 23 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission in a 7-0 vote,  denied the application.

“We were a little blindsided by the decision,” said Lee. “We received some concrete guidance but we are seeking further guidance from council and that is really the point of our appeal here.”

According to a staff report, at its Sept. 19 meeting council may reverse the planning and zoning commission’s decision in whole or in part or modify the decision being appealed. Council could also attach conditions of approval on any appeal.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Business Briefs September 17, 2019

Giving for Good helps Ascendigo

Opening a third branch in the Roaring Fork Valley, FirstBank announces “Giving for Good,” an outreach program partnering with both the Carbondale Creamery and Café and Ascendigo Autism Services.

During the month of September FirstBank will donate $5 to Ascendigo for every latte or cupcake purchased. 

Ascendigo is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and continues to empower those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through adventure in the outdoors, skills development and coaching and in-home behavioral therapy for those with ASD.

Inside the Chamber column: Work together, get along and have fun

“Work together, get along and have fun.” These are the words that came directly from the mouth of my 5-year-old daughter when I asked her what story she would tell if she had the chance. Though I would consider this more of a philosophy than a story, I can’t help but think she’s on to something. Maybe it is that simple.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, and this important milestone has provided an opportunity to pause and reflect. As I have dug through boxes of archives, read old newspaper articles and looked at hundreds of photos, I’ve come to realize that so many of the great things the GSCRA and the community have accomplished can be credited to the philosophy my kindergartner so eloquently described.

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago when had the opportunity to chat with David Delaplane, also known as the “Father of Colorado Mountain College,” at the dedication of the new buildings at CMC’s Spring Valley campus. He was the newly hired manager of the Glenwood Springs Chamber in the 1960s when he found a folder labeled “education committee.” At the time, he thought to himself, “There really ought to be a college here.” Over 50 years later, we have a thriving college that has educated thousands of nurses, teachers, first responders and so many others. This is just one of the many examples of successful collaborations that have occurred over the last century in our community.

Fast-forward to 2019, and we are continuing to work together, get along and have fun with a variety of businesses and organizations in the community, including our neighboring chambers of commerce. Just last week, we co-hosted a State of the State business luncheon along with the Colorado Chamber and our neighboring Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen chambers. While our communities are unique, we are very interconnected. We share many of the same challenges and opportunities, and by working together we can accomplish so much more.

One of my personal favorite ongoing partnerships is the Business and Breakfast series. Classes are held the first Tuesday of every month at the Glenwood Springs Library. These classes are free, and attendees walk away with tools that they can easily apply to their businesses. This is thanks to a collaboration of the Glenwood Springs Library, Colorado Mountain College, BlizzardPress, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, River Blend Coffee and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

While fun is weaved into a lot of what we do, it will be at the forefront of our Centennial Gala on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Hotel Colorado. The prestigious event is the largest annual community gathering of local businesspeople and features food, drinks, a silent auction, live music and entertainment.

The program will include the presentation of Citizen of the Year and Top Brass Business of the Year. The community is invited to nominate a deserving citizen or business for these awards, and the nomination deadline is Oct. 4. Nomination forms are available at glenwoodchamber.com/gala.

The Top Brass award will recognize one outstanding business of the year for a major contribution that reflects commercial growth, creativity or community involvement. Businesses or professionals marking career milestones will earn Top Brass anniversary certificates or plaques. Bay Equity Home Loans was last year’s recipient.

Locals are also invited to thank a noteworthy fellow citizen through the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Citizen of the Year Award given in the name of Dean Vogelaar, a longtime chamber director and the award’s first recipient. The award is intended to honor an individual (or in particular instances a married couple) who makes a substantial contribution to Glenwood Springs. As a result of the nominee’s efforts, the community should have received notable benefits and become a better place to live and work. Last year’s recipient of this award was Michael McCallum.

The years seem to go by faster and faster, and 2019 has been no exception. Thank you to our amazing local businesses and fellow community members for all you do. We look forward to recognizing a couple of you on Nov. 2. We are grateful for the opportunity to share with you in the role of making Glenwood Springs a wonderful community for the last 100 years. We look forward to working together, getting along and having fun for the next century and beyond.

Angie Anderson is president and CEO of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Glenwood’s vacation rental market continues to grow

A recent snapshot of the Glenwood Springs area’s vacation rental market provides a glimpse at the ever-growing business sector as the industry becomes more and more regulated.

Glenwood Springs officials over the past year have formalized the process to legitimize vacation rentals and collect local lodging taxes. 

Any property owner within city limits who lists a residential unit as a vacation rental at places like airbnb.com and HomeAway.com (formerly vrbo.com) or elsewhere, is now required to go through a permitting process with the city.

By the numbers look at Glenwood vacation rentals

$210

Average daily rate for vacation rentals in the Glenwood Springs area between December 2018 and May 2019.

$2,815

Average daily revenue from vacation rentals in the Glenwood area between November 2018 and July 2019. The average daily revenue for July alone was $3,752.

175

Combined number of short-term vacation rentals and accessory tourist rentals (single room in a house, or accessory unit to a primary residence), currently permitted within Glenwood Springs city limits.

$500

Initial short-term rental permit fee in Glenwood Springs city limits, with a $300 renewal fee every two years.

36

Percent of Glenwood Springs-area vacation rentals that involve one-bedroom units. Another 23% are two-bedroom, 18% are three-bedroom and 11% are four-bedroom.

Source: Combination of airdna.co data and recent city of Glenwood Springs statistics.

Earlier this summer, new permit fees, building inspection requirements and limits on the percentage of Glenwood’s residential units that can be designated as vacation rentals were enacted.

 Vacation rentals outside city limits in unincorporated Garfield County are not required to adhere to the new rules.

According to Glenwood Springs Senior Planner Hannah Klausman, as it stands, the city now has a total of 138 short-term rental permits outside the downtown core area, and 16 within the boundaries of the city’s downtown general improvements district (GID).

The new rules limit the number of short-term rentals permitted outside of the GID to 7 percent of the city’s free-market units, which would allow approximately 209 permits based on the city’s current housing stock. There must also be 250 feet of separation between permitted short-term rentals.

Within the downtown GID, 18 percent of free-market units may include short-term rentals, which equates to roughly 33 permits, based on the new rules.

Since the new ordinance was adopted in late June, “We have had one previously permitted property fall out due to the sale of the property,” Klausman said.

“Permits are non-transferrable, so at point of sale this property’s permit became void. The new regulations of the 250 foot buffer distance then made this property ineligible for a permit.”

The city also allows for single bedrooms within an occupied residential unit, and accessory dwelling units, to be rented on a short-term basis as “accessory tourist units.” The city currently has 21 such permitted units, Klausman said.

“Our main review of permits will occur at the end of this permit cycle that expires Dec. 31, so there will likely be a few more properties that sold, or are no longer functioning as vacation rentals,” she added. “Some naturally drop off, and there will probably be a few more that are removed due to the new regulations …”

The city’s permit renewal period for all existing vacation unit permit holders begins Oct. 1.

According to the vacation rental database airdna.co, there are currently 230 active vacation rentals in the greater Glenwood Springs area listed on airbnb.com and HomeAway.com alone. Of those, 44% are listed on airbnb and 26% on HomeAway. Another 30% are listed on both sites.

The Glenwood Springs area is defined as the city limits, as well as the surrounding area extending west to Canyon Creek, east to No Name and Spring Valley, and south to Aspen Glen.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from the original online and print version to reflect the true number of permitted accessory tourist units (ATUs) in Glenwood Springs after an incorrect number was provided by the city. The city has 21 permitted ATUs. Also, City Council on final reading of the vacation rentals ordinance in July changed the percent of residential units outside the GID boundaries that could be permitted as short-term rentals, from 7% to 5%

Roaring Fork chambers gather to hear state perspective on tourism, legislative concerns

Prospects for a recession on the horizon has state tourism officials planning accordingly, Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Office of Tourism, said in a meeting with area chambers of commerce Thursday.

Whether an economic downturn is inevitable or not, some “anti-recession” strategies can be used in tourism promotion efforts to weather the storm, Ritter said at a “State of the State” business luncheon.

The event was hosted by chamber organizations in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen at the Aspen Glen Club outside Carbondale.

Ritter talked about current tourism trends in the state. Colorado Chamber legislative affairs specialist Loren Furman spoke about upcoming legislative matters that could impact businesses across the state.

“The reason the tourism industry is so sensitive to the possibility of a recession is because travel is one of those areas where people cut back first when there’s an economic downturn,” Ritter said.

Following the 2008 recession, Colorado tourism officials took a close look at traveler intentions when it came to choosing a destination, and how that changed when money was tight.

The top considerations — time available, finances available, perceived affordability, and interest in travel — changed the messaging, Ritter said.

“Our messaging has to be the kind of messaging that will withstand an economic downtown,” she said. “We don’t want to have our messaging out of kilter with consumers’ opinions.”

Glenwood Springs was one of the beneficiaries of that traveler mindset in the years immediately following the recession, observed Lisa Langer, director of tourism promotion for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.

While visitor numbers dropped off initially, they began to rebound as regional travelers sought closer destinations, rather than booking bigger vacations elsewhere.

“We’re right on I-70, we have so much to offer and we’re still affordable,” Langer said.

Another promotional effort that grew out of that time period was a greater focus on international tourism, she said. When the U.S. dollar is weaker, foreign visitors are more likely to be lured to places like Colorado, Langer said.

Colorado has seen a steady trajectory of tourism growth since the last recession, Ritter said, noting that spending by travelers to Colorado has grown by 65% since 2009, compared to 46% nationally.

Those visitors have spent an average of 5.7% more each year since that time, compared to a 4.3% growth rate nationally, she said.

This year, even though the inventory of hotel rooms increased by 3% statewide, occupancy has been up and the average daily room rate continues to rise.

In Glenwood Springs, average occupancy of available rooms increased from 64.1% last year to 66.4% through July of this year. Aspen lodging has also seen growth from 68.6% of rooms occupied on average last year, to 70.5% this year, according to the latest statistics in the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report.

Colorado.com also remains one of top performing state websites in the country, Ritter said. Of 10.8 million visitors to the site last year, 40% ended up visiting a Colorado destination.

While tourism continues to flourish in Colorado, there are a host of concerns for businesses large and small resulting from various legislative initiatives, said Furman, the senior vice president of state and federal relations for the Colorado Chamber of Commerce.

The 2019 state legislative session — which Furman referred to as the “worst ever” for business interests — was challenging, with a host of measures deemed anti-business in some circles being pass into law.

However, that also prompted chambers to work more closely together to make sure business voices are being heard, she said.

The failed paid family medical leave bill was one example, Furman said.

Chamber lobbyists worked hard to offer up some solutions that weren’t reflected in the bill, which ultimately didn’t have enough votes to pass. A task force that’s now been set up to study the issue before a new bill is introduced does have chamber representation at the table, she said.

“When you’ve got such a large coalition of interests that are working together, wanting to find a solution on a very controversial piece of legislation, this was an example of success,” Furman said.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Glenwood Hot Springs splash zone under investigation following four cases of stomach bug

State and local public health departments are investigating four reported cases of the stomach bug cryptosporidiosis in four visitors to the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort’s Sopris Splash Zone on Aug. 18.

Garfield County Public Health confirmed the four cases and investigation.

A microscopic parasite, cryptosporidium – also known as crypto – causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Cryptosporidium remains one of the most common causes of recreational water illness in the U.S.

On Sept. 11, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort received notification from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment of its issuance of a health advisory to public health agencies and health care providers regarding four cases of cryptosporidiosis.

“It has been determined that these four cases involved persons who had visited our children’s water attractions area, the Sopris Splash Zone, on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort,” John Bosco, Glenwood Hot Springs Resort vice president said in a statement Thursday. “We immediately began assisting the Colorado Department of Health and the Garfield County Department of Health in their investigation, and are cooperating fully to ensure that the crypto leading to these cases has been fully eradicated.”

Bosco said employees were conducting “rigorous disinfectant protocol” to the Sopris Splash Zone and stated that the area would remain closed until it was determined to be safe for public use.

The Sopris Splash Zone includes a children’s play area with mini-water slides, interactive water features, shallow play areas and shade structures.

Bosco added that employees would also perform “rigorous disinfectant protocol” on the resort’s Shoshone Chutes Adventure River out of an abundance of caution.

Whether or not either attraction would reopen as planned this weekend remains in question.

The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort’s pool, however, remains open to visitors and is not part of the investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crypto spreads when someone swallows water contaminated with fecal matter containing the parasite.

Cryptosporidiosis has an average incubation period of seven days and symptoms, which generally last one to two weeks include: watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss.

According to Garfield County Public Health, the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort had “taken all recommended mitigation measures” and went on to say that its “Chlorine levels during the time of concern were within the appropriate regulatory range.”

“We are deeply sorry and apologize to any of our visitors who have had a negative experience related to our water play area. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort considers the safety of our guests to be top priority and uses state-of-the-art filtration and disinfection systems in this area with 24-7 monitoring,” Bosco stated. “All required systems appear to have been functioning properly and pool chemistry was within the state required levels at all times.”

mabennett@postindependent.com

Business Briefs September 10, 2019

Dalby, Wendland & Co. named a Top 300 Public Accounting Firm            

Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C., has been recognized by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) as a Top 300 Firm. IPA 300 firms are ranked by U.S. net revenues and are compiled by analyzing more than 550 responses to IPA’s Survey and Analysis of Firms. This is Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C.’s fifth year recognized by IPA.

Firm CEO Chris West said, “Continuing to be recognized as a Top 300 Public Accounting Firm in the nation is really an honor for us, and we aspire to ultimately be recognized as a Top 100 Firm in the nation. We are expanding our service lines and hiring top level talent to advance our expertise and provide comprehensive guidance with advisory and planning, in addition to our core services of tax, client accounting services, and audit. We are grateful to our clients, employees and communities for helping us come so far.”

The IPA survey and benchmarking report is the gold standard within the profession. This is IPA’s 29th year in annual rankings of the largest accounting firms in the nation.

Personal Finance column: Retirement is time to engage and unleash your daemon

In David Brooks’ “The Second Mountain – A Quest for a Moral life,” he writes about the daemon. “A daemon is a calling, an obsession, a source of lasting and sometimes manic energy. The daemon identifies itself as an obsessive interest, a feeling of being at home at a certain sort of place, doing a certain activity. There’s often some core issue that obsesses a person, and they scratch at it for their entire lives.” He talks about “leading the kind of life that keeps your heart and soul awake every day.” There is a beauty in that it is found deep within one’s psyche and is profoundly different for everyone.

Brooks continues: “You are trying to find that tension or problem that arouses great waves of moral, spiritual and relational energy.”

If you are blessed to find your daemon early in life, your life has been not without struggle, but has been more fulfilling.

The seeds of my daemon were planted early and have been pruned, cultivated and honed over time. Anyone who has known me for more than 25 years, knows that I have had a stewardship perspective on finances — unwaivering. That everything around money — how we earn it, share it, save, invest, protect and spend it — needs to be based on the premise that it is not ours in the first place. We have been entrusted with the gifts and talents of earning it. Money is a tool to be used wisely. We then have responsibilities in how we give, save, invest, protect and spend it throughout our lives. There is so much that is broken in how we handle money and so much room for healing and growth. As I head toward my fall season of life, it is the opportunity to walk alongside people in “doing their dollars differently” that stirs my soul and keeps me fired up.

Distorted Lines in the Sand

Retirement. The financial services industry and the media tout us to build up those buckets of money in order to reach that perceived finish line. Have we as a society lost touch with our daemons because of an excessive economic perspective? Moving away from work and into the life of personal ease has been the traditional trajectory, but is it the path that will lead to better relationships, communities or impact our world for the better?

Fierce Commitments

Having financial resources is not about having the freedom from something — the absence of restraint. It is about having the freedom to do something meaningful. What sets your heart on fire?

We will find greater fulfillment in life when we look at using our financial and character resources to facilitate living out what Brooks calls “fierce commitments.” It is much more than pursuing materialistic pleasures and pastimes. There is a paradox in our privilege. For perspective check out globalrichlist.com. “When we are well-off, we chase temporary pleasures that actually draw us apart. We use our wealth to buy big houses with big yards that separate us and make us lonely.” The four areas of fierce commitments noted in the book are vocation, marriage, philosophy and faith and community.

I have been encouraged and convicted by this book. I want to build on my wins, do the necessary soul searching in areas that I desire to change, and keep climbing. I will make sure my financial decisions bolster my fierce commitments and sustain my daemons.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at daniellehoward4u.com.

Carbondale company helps skiers go green

MountainFlow Wax, based in Carbondale, is on a mission to help skiers and snowboarders “wax on, wax off” with the environment in mind.

“I think our story is that whatever you put on your skis ends up in the snowpack and then in your local rivers,” said Peter Arlein, founder and CEO of MountainFlow Wax. “I think most people don’t know that ski wax is made from petroleum, so our job is to get the word out there and offer a different option.”

Today, MountainFlow Wax is launching a Kickstarter campaign to offer a plant-based ski wax, which will be available in some local stores this winter and available for pre-order now.

Since 2016, Arlein has been working on a recipe for a reliable, sustainable ski wax.

“Just like you can have a soy candle versus a regular petroleum-based candle, you can do the same thing with ski wax,” he said. “It’s really finding the right waxes to use and then the right ratio of each type of wax to make it something that skis really well.”

For MountainFlow’s plant-based wax, Arlein uses about five to six different waxes to make the product.

“That’s kind of what sets us apart,” Arlein said of other companies trying to enter the plant-based ski wax market. “Other people have tried this in the past, but it just didn’t ski that well and I think it was mostly soy products, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to find, but it’s really bringing in those different waxes that make it super fast.”

Last year, Arlein did performance tests, including one comparing a set of skis with petroleum wax pitted against their plant-based wax, “and the performance was the same,” he said.

Arlein said two years ago he came up with a little over 200 different formulas to test before they dialed it into a wax that maintained performance. All formulas were tested by friends as well as shops across the region.

“It worked great,” said Chris Andersen, owner of Kind Bikes and Skis in Edwards, who tested the product last winter at Beaver Creek.

Last year, Kind Bikes and Skis carried the wax with positive feedback.

“We intend to carry it again this year,” Andersen said.

The wax is applied like other waxes and also comes in a rub-on form.

“Everyone was asking for an eco-friendly ski wax,” Arlein said about starting his research years ago. “I was super surprised to learn that there was no plant-based option in the U.S. or Canada.”

The topic of eco-friendly ski wax has primarily flown under the radar, but MountainFlow Wax is hoping to change that.

“Sensitivity to the environment is fortunately at the front of people’s minds,” Andersen said. “When you think about the different types of waxes and some of the chemicals found in waxes and how they go onto the snow and then percolate down to the ground and into our groundwater systems — it’s a real concern both for wild habitat and human water supplies.

“If it’s possible to make something that’s natural that won’t harm our groundwater and habitat for our animals,” he continued, “it just makes sense.”

For more information about MountainFlow Wax and to pre-order for winter, visit www.mountainflowecowax.com or visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.