This week, Aspen City Council took a stand, and will not conduct an election on whether more than 22 million dollars should be spent on a new 37,000-square foot municipal office complex. Some believe that’s because the members thought the issue would be defeated. The Aspen Daily News reports that in their criticisms of the offices’ opponents, some council members directly accused those people of spreading incorrect information. In the end, council voted 4 to 1 to spend significantly more to finance the offices with “certificates of participation” instead of general obligation bonds. State law requires an election if those “G-O” bonds are used for a project. Pitkin County went the certificate route for its new companion offices as well, and construction on those is already in progress. City Manager Steve Barwick warned members against a vote, saying many voters don’t think there’s any value in rebuilding government offices. Part of the city’s rationale in pursuing the new complex is a finding that over many years, that owned building will cost Aspen less by housing local operations in a single place, than it would to keep renting spaces many of which are in random spots around town.
There will be a vote on this, though… the Garfield County Commissioners will have citizens decide this November whether to tax landowners, in many cases including themselves, a little more. The money would boost museums and cultural heritage sites across the county. At issue is a slight rise in the county property tax, 45 hundredths of a mill. It’s only a few cents on a dollar, a few bucks a year, but could generate as much as a million dollars to support preservation of historic locations. Even anti-tax commissioner John Martin backs this one, saying it would benefit everyone in Garfield.
That massive deal the Aspen Skiing Company’s affiliate firms made a few months ago, working with the Vail valley’s KSL Capital Partners to buy up the resort holdings of competitor Intrawest, seems to be passing legal muster. Rulings this week by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice don’t find any reason to investigate the deal under the Sherman anti-trust act. That means it appears to them the deal won’t constitute a monopoly in the ski industry, or other unfair advantage. A statement Intrawest posted late last month says in these words, “expiration of the waiting period under the act satisfies one of the conditions to the closing of the pending merger.” The total deal’s expected to be valued around $1.5 billion. It has the “affiliate” companies acquiring Steamboat, the operations of Winter Park, the Canadian Mountain Holidays heli-skiing operation, and more. In a separate deal, those operations are also buying California’s Mammoth Mountain, and SkiCo says the waiting period’s expired on that as well. Some see the acquisitions as key in Aspen being able to truly compete with the existing giant Vail Resorts, but other industry analysts are concerned deals like this only cut down competition, and may result primarily in more expensive skiing & riding.
We talk to the US Forest Service on a pretty regular basis, but it’s the national parks that are doing great right now, as they turned 100 years old last year. The National Parks Service says people approaching the ages of the parks are getting active, too. Its website’s been recently overwhelmed, with senior citizens hoping to land their lifetime parks passes. Currently the price on such a pass is only $10, and that goes up to $80 on the 28th of next month. You have to be 62 or over now to get that deal, which carries on as long as you do… offering free admission to all 417 national parks across America, plus 2000 other recreational sites. The savings are potentially huge, since a single admission to any of the parks can go 25 to 35 bucks.
And y’know, criminals seem not to be the smartest people in any community… this example, from your own community. A 27-year-old Rifle man we won’t name ended up catching and holding himself for police this week. Authorities say the alleged idiot was trying to commit a second burglary in an hour late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, attempting to break into the Garfield County Fairgrounds. The manager of the fairgrounds is mystified, pointing out that there’s nothing for anyone to steal there. Anyway, to our genius… around 1:00 Wednesday, an alarm from the Go-Fer convenience store came in to police, and cops found a cash register open, cash missing from it… but then there was another call under an hour later, about some banging & screaming at the fairgrounds. That’s when officers found the guy stuck in an air duct at the fairgrounds’ indoor arena. He did the police’s work for them, keeping all the evidence from the Go-Fer burglary on him. Theft, criminal mischief, and burglary were the charges filed.
If you missed some of our stories or just want to read them for yourself, they’re all posted at ksno dot net. I’m Jim Williams, KSNO News. There’s more of the Morning Roundabout, including Meteorologist Don Day’s complete extended forecast, on the way next.