Glenwood Council looks to DDA, tourism funds to help cover rising costs for downtown amenity upkeep
After pouring millions of dollars into beautifying Glenwood Springs’ downtown core, the question as to who should pay for what in the way of maintenance costs has come to a head.
According to a city staff report presented at the Aug. 1 City Council meeting, in 2017 downtown maintenance costs were approximately $120,000. In 2018, that price tag ballooned to over $217,000.
“Once this festival street (Seventh Street) and plaza project is done, and all of the landscaping items that go along with that, it is projected to be upwards of $400,000,” Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup said during the meeting of the annual costs associated with the downtown’s upkeep.
“Again, the costs continue to rise,” Kaup said.
Not wanting those rising costs to chip away at the city’s Acquisitions and Improvements (A&I) Fund, which voters overwhelmingly renewed in 2016, Council eyed two other sources – the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the city’s tourism promotion fund.
“The whole purpose of the DDA is to assist the city in developing the area within the Downtown Development Authority’s geographic region to design and build infrastructure,” Councilor Charlie Willman, who served on the DDA board for seven years before being elected to City Council, said in a recent interview.
That comes directly from the DDA’s charge documents, he said.
“There are ways to make that work so that we are not knocking heads with each other, but rather we are cooperating to make this a better city.”
According to Willman, the DDA’s 2019 budget amounts to a little over $700,000.
Director of Tourism Promotion Lisa Langer, speaking before council last week, wanted input from the Tourism Promotion Board before making any spending recommendations. She was concerned about tourism promotion funds going toward “maintenance” as opposed to marketing
“In terms of what the money should be used for, we would like it to be purposeful and tourism related,” Langer said of the city’s tourism promotion fund. “Maintenance is probably not the best word to use.”
The special fund accrues revenue through a special 2.5 percent accommodations tax on overnight stays in Glenwood Springs.
However, Langer stressed that she was grateful that council asked for the Tourism Promotion Board’s recommendation before just pulling from its budget.
According to Langer, 92.5 percent of the revenue generated from the accommodations tax goes into the city’s roughly $900,000 marketing fund.
“The Tourism Promotion Board is very methodical and thoughtful in the budget process, and we will have to cut marketing,” Langer explained, should dollars be diverted for maintenance of downtown amenities.
“There is no other way to do it, because that is what our fund is,” she said. “It is a marketing fund.”
Mayor Jonathan Godes called the ongoing budgeting discussion a reflection of City Council’s desire to engage the DDA and Tourism Board in a more meaningful partnership and cost-sharing understanding.
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.