Establishment on Wheeler cash reallocation query for November poll

After two members of Aspen City Council convened a special session on Friday, they failed to get any of their colleagues to change their mind on a vote earlier this week to send a voting question to voters to get a portion of the property transfer tax revenue who are funded to reuse the Wheeler Opera House.

The decision on Friday was made at 4:00 p.m., one hour before the 5:00 p.m. deadline, to put a voting question to the Secretariat of the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office for the November 2nd election.

Freshman Councilman John Doyle, who has been in office for three months, has been considered the swing vote since he said while Special session on Tuesday that he could see the merits of sending the question out to voters this year, but also understood the arguments of waiting until November 2022.

Doyle finally sided with Mayor Torre and Alderman Skippy Mesirov on Tuesday to put the question out to voters in a 3-2 vote, with councilors Rachel Richards and Ward Hauenstein disagreeing.

Doyle did not renounce his stance on Friday despite moving a motion to reconsider the ordinance and resolution that sent the question to voters, but in the end he voted no, as did Torre and Mesirov.

Richards and Hauenstein called the special session and said they believed Tuesday’s vote was flawed as Mesirov practically attended the session for an hour and a half after four board members were stuck 2-2 when they passed an ordinance approved, which allows the voting question.

“If the process is flawed, that is also the result of the problem,” said Hauenstein on Friday. “The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting shocked me more than any of the 100+ city council meetings I attended or witnessed when the votes were tied, a dead vote.”

Richards said being asked to re-examine in a special session was the first type of measure she had ever used in her 28 years in public office.

“Last Tuesday evening, at the public hearing, I briefly questioned … a member who did not attend the meeting was voting on the items in the meeting,” she said. “I should have disagreed more strongly.”

Since meeting on Tuesday, Hauenstein and Richards had met separately, with Doyle trying to convince him to move on to their positions.

Doyle had also spoken individually with other members of the council about the voting question before the meeting on Friday.

Richards turned down the poll question for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that the city’s recent election results showed that the required 60% of voters are unlikely to support it.

She also said the issue of how the money would be spent, how much would be diverted and what would be left for the historic Wheeler Opera House was not fully resolved.

However, she supports the concept of funding more art, but the question should be asked in autumn 2022 so that voters can be fully educated, art groups can promote the issue and more people tend to vote during a mid-term election, “said Friday.

Hauenstein said he wants to ensure other important community needs, particularly mental health and childcare, are adequately funded before calling on voters to divert money from the Wheeler Land Transfer Tax (RETT) for more arts funding.

Mesirow and Torre said it is now time to poll voters, and the details of how much is left for the Wheeler and the parameters to be set for the art spending can be done by ordinance by a council vote.

“I am excited about this opportunity and would like to take this step forward,” said Torre.

Friday was the fourth meeting in a month that the council has met to discuss diverting Wheeler funds to other arts purposes, and one of over a dozen this year Talk about funding other community needs with the same source of income.

The Wheeler Opera House currently has a fund balance of $ 40 million and some elected officials and parishioners believe the coffers have grown too big. Therefore, future RETT revenues can be used in other growing areas of need.

The poll question asked for a portion of Wheeler’s RETT proceeds to go to the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which is currently supported by the city’s general fund and the city’s wealth management plan fund.

The elimination of the general fund as a source of support for the Red Brick would allow the city to pay its remaining $ 2.1 million in outstanding certificates of attendance for the Isis Theater, which is in financial distress due to challenges in the film industry is.

The poll also calls for the cap on $ 100,000 annually allocated to arts and culture grants to local nonprofits to be lifted and opened up more widely to the visual and performing arts.

The RETT was first accepted by voters in 1979 and was specifically pledged to provide financial support to the Wheeler Opera House, plus the $ 100,000 annually allocated.

In 2016, voters extended the tax to 2039 and reiterated the 1979 vote that any change in funding would require the support of 60% of voters.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Divided Aspen Metropolis Council sends Wheeler cash query to voters

After locating a member of Aspen City Council who was absent from Tuesday’s regular session to vote on a controversial election issue, the council voted 3-2 in favor of an ordinance asking voters to withdraw tax revenue from the Divert real estate transfer tax for the Wheeler Opera House.

Councilor Skippy Mesirow was reached by city director Sara Ott after an hour and a half discussion of his elected counterparts, who were stuck 2-2 in a vote, to send the question to the vote.

Mesirov attended the meeting at his Aspen apartment after a vacation trip through WebEx. The conversation among councilors continued for another 40 minutes, which ended in a swing vote by Mesirov after asking questions about the councilors’ positions that they had previously stated.

He voted because of his late arrival despite objections from two council members, Ward Hauenstein and Rachel Richards.

“I think this is a flawed process because Skippy comes at the last minute,” said Hauenstein.

Richards asked Mesirov to wait and listen to the entire conversation later before making a decision.

“If you get involved,” she said, “I would really appreciate it if you wait and watch until you see the previous discussion … and I don’t want to have to repeat 10 minutes of online comments to you about my concerns and assessments.”

The special session was called for Tuesday so Richards could be on the podium. since she was on vacation a week earlier when the rest of the council debated whether the question should be sent to the electorate.

Richards said she watched the August 24th meeting of the council and was ready to turn down the vote question for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that the city’s recent election results showed that the required 60% of voters are unlikely to support her.

Prior to Mesirov’s appearance, Councilor John Doyle said a decision to send a question to voters was important enough for all five members to vote.

“I just firmly believe that Skippy should be here so we can get a resounding yes or no,” he said. “I hate having another meeting, but he’s part of our board of directors, he should get involved.”

With the Friday deadline for submitting ballot language to the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, the council took a break to see Mesirov’s availability.

Richards said the council members’ conflicting views on diverting funds from the Wheeler Opera House did not send out a good signal to voters.

“Great, you have a 3-2 vote to put it on the ballot and try to win with it,” she said, arguing more than once Tuesday that it was still not entirely clear how the money was being spent and how much would be diverted and what would be left for the historic Wheeler Opera House.

“I think if the council puts a question together and publishes it and it fails, it is the council’s failure to ask a failed question … and I think that is not reflected well in the council,” she said.

Mayor Torre, who had voted with Doyle and Mesirov to put the question on the ballot, said the time had come.

“I think we should go ahead with November and give our community a chance to vote on it,” he said. “That doesn’t work structurally for us and we should fix it and we could fix it by putting it on the ballot and supporting it and getting it over the 60% threshold … and I also think that doesn’t tie our hands up, even to ask another question in the next year or two, or right now, when we are sitting in front of us and have the opportunity to make progress. “

The poll question is asking that some of Wheeler’s property transfer tax revenue be diverted to the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which is currently supported by the city’s general fund and the city’s wealth management plan fund.

The elimination of the general fund as a source of support for the Red Brick would allow the city to pay its remaining $ 2.1 million in outstanding certificates of attendance for the financially vulnerable Isis Theater.

The poll also calls for the cap on $ 100,000 annually allocated to arts and culture grants to local nonprofits to be lifted and opened up more widely to the visual and performing arts.

The Wheeler real estate transfer tax was first adopted by voters in 1979 and was specifically pledged as financial support for the Wheeler Opera House, plus the $ 100,000 annually allocated.

In 2016, voters extended the RETT to 2039 and reiterated the 1979 vote that any change in funding would require the support of 60% of voters.

The Wheeler Opera House currently has $ 40 million in funds.

Hauenstein said he wants to ensure other important community needs, particularly mental health and childcare, are adequately funded before asking voters to divert money from the Wheeler property transfer tax for more arts funding.

At the beginning of the council discussion on Tuesday before Mesirov’s appearance, Doyle said in the back of his mind that if the question fails, it could be asked again, but with questions from the Wheeler board of directors and other concerns, it would be a good idea to step down and assess it more closely, instead of rushing it.

He later changed his mind and voted yes to put it on the ballot after voting against Richards’ earlier motion to deny the ordinance that voters sent him.

Hauenstein and Richards voted yes to reject the motion, while Torre and Doyle voted no, which resulted in a 2-2 deadlock.

When asked again to approve the regulation, Richards and Hauenstein vote no and Mesirow, Torre and Doyle vote yes.

“I see valid arguments for both sides,” said Doyle when he was pushed to his position by Mesirov. “I’m struggling with this because we could get it back on the ballot right away; I like what Torre said about letting the voters decide, we have a smart electorate, and I also agree with the points Rachel made as she hasn’t even met the Wheeler board yet. It’s a difficult thing. “

Mesirov leaned over to Torre’s position.

“Let’s do it now and let the polling feedback guide us,” he said.

The council spent much less time discussing another vote question, which was passed 4-0, to be sent to Aspen voters this fall.

The council spent about 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting approving two regulations and a decision that sends a basic exchange question to the voters.

If approved by voters, it would lay a 19 acre shelter easement over Shadow Mountain, preventing future development and guaranteeing public access and recreational opportunities.

The property is known as the Pride of Aspen Mining Claim, and if voters agree to the land swap, it will be owned permanently by the City Park Department and Pitkin County’s Open Space Program.

By approving the deal with homeowner Bob Olson who owns 501 W. Hopkins Ave. owned next to the Midland Trail, he will receive 4,000 square feet of public right of way on his 7,500 square foot property.

The additional square footage to Olson’s property would allow for better access and more landscaping around the home, along with setbacks that would create a buffer for the adjacent Midland Trail.

His company, RD Olson Investments II, LLC, headquartered in Newport Beach, California, bought the 19 acres on Shadow Mountain for $ 1 million in 2018 for prophylactic purposes to ensure no one would do or suggest anything right behind their home that he could contradict.

As part of the land swap, between 360 square meters and 780 square meters of additional floor space could be added to the existing 3,450 square meter house, depending on the proposal and land use regulations.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Citizen group looking for poll query to divert Wheeler cash falls brief on signatures

A group of residents failed to meet Friday’s deadline to submit 925 signatures from registered Aspen voters to ask a question on the November vote calling for re-use of some of the property transfer tax revenue given to the Wheeler Opera House goes, is required.

Kurt Hall, a member of the group that began their efforts earlier this week, said he did not have a final count of signatures on Friday because multiple people were collected and no count had been taken.

“We’re going to move on and when we get to 925 we are going to go before (Aspen City Council) and hope they see this as confirmation,” Hall said. “Even though we missed the deadline, the pressure will mount and our concern, approach and goal will be spread throughout the community.

“It’s not over yet; it has only just begun. “

They try to split the income so that half goes to the wheeler and the other to art.

The question was also to lift the existing cap of $ 100,000 in Wheeler Real Estate Tax (WRETT) income, which is spent on cultural, arts and music organizations in the valley.

A majority of voters agreed to this in 1979 and all WRETTs went to the wheeler.

In 2016, voters extended the WRETT until 2039.

The city could put its own measure on the November vote and has until September 3, but councilors said earlier this year that they were unwilling to ask voters a question about diverting future Wheeler funds, and preferred the elections in autumn 2022.

advice discussed for months about how much money should be diverted and where it should go.

Identified areas of need that the council has focused on include childcare, health and social services, rainwater, and the non-profit arts community.

Mayor Torre said this week that the group trying to split the revenue 50-50 hasn’t done the financial modeling the city is doing to make sure enough money goes to historic Wheeler.

The fund currently has just under $ 40 million.

He also said the group misrepresented that its members tried to work with city officials.

“They turned around and came up with ballot papers with no financial models,” said Torre. “They didn’t take part in any dialogue … the way they approached it wasn’t collaborative.”

City Secretary Nicole Henning accepted the group’s petition Monday after rejecting an earlier petition asking voters to lift the $ 100,000 cap and give the Aspen School District a $ 10 million grant to approve the modernization and renovation of the 550 seats Aspen District Theater and 150-seat black box space.

The language of the petition is not a legislative matter, so Henning concluded and stated in a letter that the granting of funds was an administrative act by a state body.

While the group needed a significant amount of money to renovate the district theater, the additional money released could also fund dozens of local arts and cultural organizations and organizations, which the city would decide on through a grant process.

The WRETT, a 0.5% tax on all property transfers in the city, averages between $ 2 million and $ 4 million per year, although that number was higher in 2020 and likely to be in 2021 as Aspen continues to see record home sales.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Group circulating petition to place Wheeler cash on fall poll

A group of Aspen residents are collecting signatures this week to bring a citizens’ initiative to the fall vote calling for voters to approve real estate tax reuse so that half goes to the Wheeler Opera House and the other to art uses.

The poll question, which would have to be approved by 60% of Aspen voters, would also aim to lift the existing $ 100,000 limit on Wheeler’s property tax revenue spent on cultural, arts and music organizations in the valley.

According to city clerk Nicole Henning, the city’s home rule charter requires the group to collect 925 signatures from registered voters in Aspen by Friday in order to meet the September 3 deadline for the November 2 elections.

The group’s representatives – Raifie Bass, Kurt Hall, and Ken Ramberg – said they were up to the task.

They also said Monday that they have been working with members of Aspen City Council and city manager Sara Ott for the past few weeks to draft the wording of a possible voting issue, but they got caught in a stalemate from receiving no assistance from officials.

“We tried to do this in partnership with the city council and we really tried to work behind the scenes,” Hall said.

Henning accepted her petition Monday after rejecting a previous one calling on voters to lift the $ 100,000 cap and approve a $ 10 million grant to them Aspen School District upgrade and renovate the Aspen District Theater with 550 seats and the Blackbox with 150 seats.

The language of the petition was not a legislative matter, concluded Henning, and stated in a letter to Bass and Hall that the granting of funds was an administrative act by a government agency.

A similar effort was done by a group of parents three years ago to convert part of the Wheeler RETT for the district theater, but it fell by the wayside due to the lack of city support and timing for an issue in the November 2018 vote.

“We’ve been around for a long time,” Bass said on Monday, adding that three proposals for the latest effort have been tabled and rejected by officials. “We are accused of rushing this, but we’ve been at it for a while.”

The current balance of the Wheeler RETT Fund is $ 39.3 million and grows with the ongoing real estate boom in Aspen.

“We fear that money will be accumulated and not used for the community,” said Ramberg.

The RETT, a 0.5% tax on all property transfers in the city, was first adopted by voters in 1979 and was specifically pledged to provide financial support to the Wheeler Opera House, plus an annual amount of $ 100,000 in arts grants.

City officials increased the arts grants by $ 300,000 annually a few years ago, which comes from revenue from Wheeler’s operations.

In 2016, voters extended the RETT until 2039.

Tax revenue averages between $ 2 million and $ 4 million per year, although that number was higher in 2020 and will likely be in 2021 as urban exodus continues here.

The group wants Aspen voters to unlock future revenue while keeping the tax intact.

“Keep the existing fund as it is, nobody wants to jeopardize the Wheeler or the ability to collect the RETT,” said Bass.

Hall and Ramberg pointed out that it was still up to the city to provide 50% of the future RETT funds as part of their revised funding process for art and cultural organizations.

“We would be at eye level and open it up to all the arts in the valley,” said Ramberg.

The group would apply for an allocation so that the district theater could be remodeled for world-class performances and brought up to date with changing rooms, separate entrance, and other upgrades.

“You already have the asset, use it,” said Bass. “It is the greatest and best use than having the money there.”

Ramberg said this is the most environmentally friendly way to provide entertainment space for the community.

“It is in local traffic, belongs to the community and has parking spaces,” said Ramberg. “It’s such an obvious win for the church and a win for the council.”

The additional money released could fund dozens of local nonprofit and cultural nonprofits and organizations in need, Hall said recent breakup of the 25-year-old Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

Aspen City Council has been debating for months about how much money should be diverted and where it should go.

Identified Areas of need This council has focused on childcare, health and social services, rainwater, and the non-profit arts community.

Council members have said in recent sessions that they would prefer to ask voters a question about Wheeler’s RETT reallocation in the fall of 2022.

The group that released the petition this week said it was time to free up money for a ramshackle district theater and organizations in need of more money.

“I’m incredibly grateful for people who work in the public sector, but this is about putting that money into better and better use while protecting the wheeler,” said Hall. “Our community has needs, let’s use them.”

csackariason@aspentimes.com

Wheeler girl sentenced for stealing veteran’s cash

June 5 – CHIPPEWA FALLS – A Wheeler woman accused of stealing more than $ 40,000 from a veteran’s savings account faces 30 days in prison and five years probation.

Nola M. Tyrrell, 51, pleaded guilty to theft and identity theft in Chippewa District Court in April.

When convicted last week, Judge Ben Lane ordered jail time and suspended sentence, and also ordered Tyrrell to repay $ 44,560 in refunds and surcharges and an additional $ 1,056 in fines. She has to serve her sentence by September 1st. She was credited with two days already served.

According to the criminal complaint, an employee of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls, 2175 E. Park Ave., called the police on June 9, 2020 to report several fraudulent transactions in which money was taken from a resident who has lived there since 2014 The man’s name had been requested for a debit card, but he cannot remember having requested or received a card. A review of his savings account revealed that there were $ 40,516 in fraudulent transactions between July 2019 and May 2020.

Police learned that the debit card was being used in a Walmart area on March 31, 2020, and officers were able to obtain four photos and video surveillance of this transaction showing a woman withdrawing money. Officers shared the pictures at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home, and five workers identified the woman as Tyrrell, who had worked at the home from July 2019 to April 27, 2020.

Tyrrell again withdrew funds from the account at a Walmart on April 19, and officials also received footage of the transaction.

Officials interviewed Tyrrell at her new job, which was also a nursing home. She initially denied that the person in the picture was her. She later claimed that she had the veteran’s permission to spend part of his money making purchases for the man’s son. However, she later admitted that she had taken the money “because it was easy for me,” said the criminal complaint.

Tyrrell admitted she had withdrawn cash from ATMs but was surprised when officials told her that she had taken in more than $ 40,000 in the past year. She was arrested and taken to Chippewa County Jail.