Rico’s budget has improved thanks to an increase in property values and sales tax revenue, says Town Manager Kari Distefano, but operating expenses outpace revenues.
“Trends with respect to town revenues appear to be on an upward slope,” Distefano stated in the December town manager report. “However, we are not out of the woods.”
Property values were $6 million in November 2019, up 9.9% from $5.4 million in November 2018, according to the Dolores County Assessor’s Office.
Revenue also has been bolstered by a state regulation that requires online retailers such as Amazon to pay local sales tax, Distefano said. That law, known as the “Amazon tax,” took effect in July 2017.
Sales tax revenues will be an estimated $132,286 in 2019, up 46% from $71,446 in 2018, she said.
Failing street maintenance equipment is a concern for the town and is rapidly reducing reserves. The town is seeking grant funding from the Rico Center to help cover the repair costs of a loader and for snowplowing costs.
Town officials reported they are negotiating with a property owner for a small easement that would allow development of the Rio Grande Trail. The proposed trail would follow the Dolores River south of Rico and connect to the Montelores Bridge and the Ryman Creek Trail. Long-term plans include a pedestrian bridge across the river that would also connect the trail to the Scotch Creek Road.
In other Rico news, the town plans to install a speed radar sign, the town website will be updated, and town Marshal Tom Halper has resigned. The town is seeking a new marshal and has reached out to Dolores County, San Miguel County and the town of Mountain Village.