Just as you’ve been hearing about across the country this week, many local real estate owners are expected to be lining up today to pay the high property taxes you find in resort areas. Next year, under the new Trump tax law, only as much as $10,000 of state & local taxes can be deducted from your federal return. In Pitkin County, the treasurer’s office expects to see as many as a thousand property owners in a line out the door on this, the final business day of the year. They say they normally get about 150 folks at the end of the year wanting to pay property taxes off early.
The public comment period remains open a little more than 3 weeks, until the 22nd of next month, to get your thoughts in to the US Forest Service on what you think about its new proposed Hanging Lake management plan. Some of the questions yet to be fully answered about a system to potentially shuttle people to Hanging Lake from Glenwood Springs include how much that system might cost, and who might run it. District Ranger Aaron Mayville says they’ve been looking at having a for-profit shuttle or guide service operate the shuttle. But how it’s run comes later, he says. What they’re looking for input on now is whether there should be such a system at all, eliminating driving to the trailhead and all its parking problems. If it’s decided there should be a shuttle, who runs it would be up to a prospectus system, and various outfitters could bid on it, but so could a big transportation entity like RFTA, that knows something about running buses. The current Forest Service proposal would limit attendance at Hanging Lake to about 615 people a day, and charge a fee to hike the trails there. That’s about half the number of folks who’ve been jamming the site lately. Most of Hanging Lake’s charm is that it’s so pristine, with a fragile ecosystem. Preserving all that and not letting the site get destroyed by overuse is the reason for the management proposal.
The state’s popular new bus service of the last 2 years, the Bustang, is growing. It expects to arrive in southeast Colorado next month, with big expansion here on the western slope in the coming year. Bustang already sees a lot of travelers along the I-70 corridor. It’s even taking over the Grand Junction to Denver run, as Greyhound abandons that one, in the coming summer. New routes to be added will include connecting Grand Junction to Durango, and Gunnison to Denver. All the towns in between would be served as well. Those are also expected to start being run in the summer of 2018.
Talks, debate, and arguments continue on how to replace Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A in town. The bottom terminal is in a residential neighborhood, but 2 proposed hotels want to build there, and each wants the lift base on its property. Many locals believe either of those ideas would “privatize” a new version of the 45-year-old lift, making it less accessible to the public. The international ski federation says after last spring’s World Cup Finals, Aspen will never have another World Cup race until the lift is replaced. The effort to come up with even a workable plan continues, and is detailed in a report in the Aspen Daily News. The city and its consultants are now asking Skico and the 2 hotels what issues might prevent them from getting in line with a few options narrowed down by a working group in recent months. That short list needs to be decided upon for anything to move ahead regarding the lift.
Be careful and safe this weekend as the New Year is rung in Sunday night. There’ll be a wide variety of celebrations and events to take in, all up and down the valley. Snowmass will have its traditional torchlight parade, open to anyone with a pass. It starts at 6:00 on Fanny Hill. There’ll be a fireworks display over the ski area at 10:00 that night as well. Check out a long list of activities to end and begin the year, in the Post-Independent and the Aspen Times.