Green Mountain Falls gets their economic marching orders

After months of public meetings, Green Mountain Falls town leaders and residents have received their economic marching orders

And they must follow a tall list, capped by possible suggestions for property and sales tax hike increases, ways to rebrand the town, do more aggressive marketing, and have more events and revenue-generating activities.

But ultimately, the draft report, authored by Joe Hanke, a senior planner for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and the project facilitator, stresses the importance of forming a local committee to take on much of the work. Under his plan, an ad hoc committee, similar in format to the local GMF trails group, will then make recommendations to the board of trustees. Part of the plans also call for soliciting more grants and keeping apprised of the economic development initiative, spearheaded by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

The report is available on the city’s website. Public comment will be accepted through July 19.

However, some concerns have been raised regarding the practicality of this project. In an e-mail, GMF Public Works Director Robert McArthur lauded the amount of information presented in the draft report, but questioned the feasibility of many of the project’s revenue-generating suggestions. And unless definite action is taken, he noted that local citizens could lose many of the services they have received in past years.

“The GMF municipality is looking at a near total staff turnover within the next five years,” stated McArthur. “Early estimates indicate that this bare bone staff will cost almost twice the current rate to replace, as a result of present staff volunteerism. The members of this ad hoc committee are going to have to function with a shrewd focus on the community needs, and stay away from the ‘Never Never Land’ carpet ride that some like to harbor.”

McArthur was referring to a considerable amount of project focus on ways to spruce up the town through developing more special events and promoting the community’s outstanding trail system. He classified these ideas as great boosters for local property owners, but unrealistic in terms of increasing the town’s revenue base. During several months of economic project meetings, opinions were quite diverse, with many residents believing the town has plenty of potential to do more events and promote its special assets. However, one theme prevailed during the project: Residents don’t want to change the character of the town.

Probably the biggest decision facing town leaders deals with possible plans to ask property owners for a tax increase next year, or to consider ways to hike fees. These ideas received strong endorsements during a citizens survey, one of the main project documents used to evaluate local opinions.

The economic project was orchestrated due to the fact that the town’s current revenues aren’t meeting current and future financial demands.