The Fraser Board of Trustees has begun discussions about which nonessential projects and programs it should cut as the town finances face the COVID-19 crisis.
As towns across Grand County consider both the financial and public health challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has brought, Fraser is looking at what the next months will bring for the town.
The board held a workshop to go over potential capital cuts Wednesday. Town Manager Jeff Durbin approached the board with a list of nonessential projects and programs asking for board direction on whether to move forward with them.
The town had planned three events for the summer, including the nine week, live music program known as Picnics in the Park, the second year of the Mural Festival and the first year of the Canine Cabins.
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The town had allocated $15,000 for Picnics in the Park and $15,000 to Canine Cabins as a sponsorship with Sky-Hi News. The Mural Festival would be another $20,000, but cost wasn’t the only thing the town board considered.
“If we’re going to go forward with this, we would need to think about the number of people who would attend,” Durbin said of the Picnics in the Park. “I think we could put some provisions in place to deal with social distancing, but I am concerned at the moment about all the other free outdoor music events being canceled.”
Social distancing was a big consideration for events, which the board was optimistic would be possible with some adjustments. Most were hesitant to cut events even with the financial hardships.
“I think we should also not just talk about the financial cost, but also about the health and well-being of our community as well,” Mayor Philip Vandernail said. “If we just shut down and do nothing, our community is going to feel that.”
Other expenses that the town board agreed to put on hold include $25,000 for marketing; $50,000 for the business enhancement grant program; $40,000 for an electric vehicle charging station; $30,000 for a public works facility design; and $30,000 to redo the town hall entry.
The town board is getting more information to see if it wants to move forward with spending $15,000 on the mural program — separate from the Mural Festival — and $15,000 on the sculpture program.
As for the events, the town board decided to put Canine Cabins on hold pending a grant the town might receive for that amount. Picnics in the Park and the Mural Festival will move forward. Town staff will work on spreading out those events to maintain social distancing.
In other business:
- The Fraser trustees approved a business relief resolution similar to the one approved by Winter Park earlier this week. The ordinance allows businesses to temporarily expand their outdoor seating areas without worrying about parking requirements.
The resolution also allows for temporary signage as long as it does not obstruct public sidewalks, and businesses are encouraged to contact town staff for assistance with any other ideas.
The resolution applies until Oct. 15, at which time businesses will need to comply with town code again.
- The board approved an amendment to the model traffic code allowing the town manager to determine appropriate weight restrictions and other traffic control measures on town streets.