The first meeting of the new Board of Trustees ran for over five hours on Monday evening, with discussions of finance dominating the night. The Second Avenue bridge was declared to be in need of replacement rather than repair, with the Board voting unanimously to spend from the Town’s reserves to the extent that flood recovery funds are not available.
The bridge was built about 45 years ago as a temporary structure. Girders supporting the bridge are rusted, and Finance Director Jill Johnson stated that a replacement could run $227,000. An adjacent homeowner wants $78,000 in addition to replace the landscaping that would have to be done to repair the damage the new structure would do to the property.
New Board member Greg Lowell agreed that it made no sense to repair the bridge, and asked Johnson how much the Town had in reserves ($915,000). He also recommended the Town request landscaping bids for the homeowner, as he and others thought the $78,000 was on the high side.
Another major point of discussion was the Town’s sponsorship of the Outdoor Games. The Town is in the third year of a three-year contract with Adventure Fit.
Several members asked if the Games had been profitable for Lyons. In the past, the Town has lost money on the event, but each subsequent year has seen those losses decline. How the town’s businesses profited (as well as how sales tax revenues performed) from the Games was not clear.
Kim Mitchell, Director of Community Programs and Relations, pointed out that the Town owes $50,000 to Adventure Fit for the Games. The Board wanted to find out if the Town could cancel the contract in light of the uncertainty due to the coronavirus. The Town Attorney, Brandon Dittman, said that he would look into the contract with Adventure Fit to see if Lyons could break it with no financial penalty by citing force majeure.
The Games have been postponed to September 5. Even that date could be questionable in light of the physical distancing people might still be observing then. Someone noted that the kayak competition would likely be have to be canceled due to the normally lower river water flow that time of year.
Mayor Pro Tem Browning stated that there are “big ticket” items that are needed, such as repairs to the water tank on Apple Valley Road near the bridge at Highway 36. Last year, the water line from the tank to the town broke, and though it was repaired, the condition of the pipe to town is questionable, and further breaks could prevent water from reaching town.
On the COVID-19 front, Victoria Simonsen, Town Administrator, said that current Boulder County orders call for people maintaining safe distance and wearing masks. Testing supplies will be coming from the state. Mayor Nick Angelo declared that, as a town, “we’re not even close” to adhering to the safety measures, based on his observations.
Sergeant Bill Crist, in his public safety report, noted that except for the break-in at Redstone Cyclery and a serious accident on Route 7, things had been fairly quiet. He acknowledged that people are getting outdoors but believes they are mostly adhering to coronavirus safeguards. Trustee Lowell asked about penalties for non-compliance with safety recommendations, and Crist replied that they would ask people to comply, adding that “this is not the Gestapo.”
There was some discussion about opening the parking lots and bathrooms to visitors. Trustee Hollie Rogin asked if it was possible to maintain safe hygiene for the bathrooms and trash bins. With summer coming and expectations of lots of visitors, this could be a problem, Crist pointed out. Simonsen questioned whether the Town would have sufficient staff and cleaning supplies to adequately clean the facilities if they were to remain open.
Another difficult situation for the Town’s finances is the loss of sales tax due to business shutdowns. The drop off in revenues, such as the occupancy tax that is levied on campers and lodgers for the festivals, is creating uncertainty in the budget. Mayor Angelo wants to support closed businesses by maintaining flexibility until “they can get back on their feet.”
The worst case scenario for Town finances, according to Simonsen, was a loss of 75% in tax revenues.