Town News

Catch Up With Council, June 25, 2024: Trails and Fuels Mitigation Update, 2023 Financial Audit Presentation, Construction and Demolition Diversion Presentation, and More

2023 Financial Audit Presentation

Each year, an external certified public accounting firm performs an independent audit as required by the Town Charter. The 2023 audit included an audit of the financial statements and internal controls, as well as a single audit of the Town’s spending of federal funds. McMahan and Associates, LLC, presented an auditor letter and then affirmed that the audit was presented as an unmodified “clean” audit opinion on financial statements which is the highest level of independent auditor assurance. The auditor also verbally lauded the Town’s willingness to be exceedingly transparent in its finances and the Town’s position of having a low debt load compared to its assets.  

2023 Financial Snapshot

  • Revenues exceeded expectations by $1.2M in 2023:
  • Sales taxes $0.35M Lower than budget & up 2% from 2022
  • Special Event revenue $0.37M less than budget
  • Frisco Adventure Park up 28% from 2022
  • Expenditures $0.6M less than anticipated in 2023
  • Includes a seven (7) month reserve, which is more than is required under State law
  • Ending Fund Balance of $13,574,892

Michael Jenkins, Managing Member from the CPA firm McMahan and Associates, LLC, and Dylan Olchin, Town of Frisco Finance Senior Manager, presented the 2023 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR), provided an audit presentation, and answered questions from Council.

Trails and Fuels Mitigation Update

This presentation was an update regarding the Dillon Ranger District Recreation Action Planning Initiative, which was funded by the US Forest Service. An update regarding the “Backyard” Plan, which is for the US Forest land south of Frisco, was also provided.

Summit County – Dillon Ranger District Recreation Action Planning Initiative ​Update

This Action Planning Initiative addressed trailhead traffic through transportation and parking options across approximately 45 trailheads, including trailheads in Frisco.

The greatest concentration of visitors to the White River National Forest is in the Dillon Ranger District:

  • 8.4 million visitors in 2022 (47% of total National Forest visitation)
  • Ski area visitation had 6 million visitors total in 2022 with 4.7 million winter visitors and 1.2 million summer visitors
  • Non-ski area visits = 2.4 million with 70% of visitors on trails in 202280% increase from 2017 to 2022 White River National Forest wide
  • The Action Planning presentation from the US Forest Service included suggestions for improving signage, parking, and communications for North Ten Mile, Mount Royal, Peaks Trail/Zack’s Stop, and Miners Creek trailheads.

Frisco “Backyard Fuels” and Recreation Project Update

  • Frisco’s “Backyard” is a 3,025-acre area of National Forest System land immediately adjacent to the Town of Frisco towards the south. The Forest Service presented an update of the “Backyard” plan which is being led by the Forest Service and funded by the Town of Frisco to improve recreation, mitigate fire danger, and preserve historic sites and areas of scientific interest.
  • The “Backyard” received 251 thousand visits in 2022 and is now part of a newly designated National Monument. It includes 21.1 miles of user created “social/informal” trails and 14.6 miles of Forest Service system trails. This trail system has been assessed as not sustainably constructed and some trails are redundant. Also, the trail system does not support current or projected visitation. Proposed trail improvements were presented as part of the presentation on page 11, and the US Forest Service staff emphasized that this could provide a lot of trail enhancements that will improve trails for Frisco residents and visitors.  
  • In addition to improving and maintaining the trails system, there is a need to reduce fuels within the Frisco “Backyard” because of the mountain pine beetle epidemic of early 2000s and the extensive dead standing and down lodgepole pine. This plan will include a particular focus on providing a fire break closest to Frisco, but the process also includes an assessment of wildflower and Aspen groves, as well as other vegetation in addition to wildlife. The “Backyard” planning process is intended to arrive at a plan that balances high-quality recreational experiences with effective wildfire risk mitigation and design them together as a single project.

Next Steps in the “Backyard” Planning Process

This planning process must follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, which is when a federal agency develops a proposal to take a major federal action. These are the next steps in this process for the “Backyard” plan:

  • Summer 2024: Write Environmental Analysis, Finish Field Work
  • Fall 2024: Public Comment Period Fire behavior modeling
  • February 2025: Draft Decision/Objection Period
  • May 2025: Final Decision
  • April 2025 and Beyond: Look at funding and implementation plans

Town staff asked Council how involved they would like Town staff to continue to be in this planning process and whether Town staff should pursue a strategy regarding how to eventually implement the “Backyard” plan, in particular the trail improvement portion of the plan and then the subsequent maintenance. This strategy would include finding ways to fund this level of Town implementation and maintenance. Council affirmed their support for staff continuing to be involved in the planning process and said that they would need more information before they make decisions around the Town’s involvement in trail improvements and maintenance. Staff agreed that they will bring back scope, cost estimates, and needed resources in order for Council to provide direction on the Town’s future involvement in trail improvements and maintenance in Frisco’s “Backyard”.

Construction and Demolition Diversion Presentation

To achieve the waste reduction goals listed in Summit County’s Community Climate Action Plan, a determination has been made that the community must pursue and expand three programs: Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT)/Universal Recycling (UR), food scrap collection, and construction and demolition (C&D) waste diversion. Since Council approved PAYT and UR in 2022, adoption of a C&D ordinance is possibly the next step.

In Summit County, 30% of landfill waste consists of C&D materials, with 40% being recoverable through existing programs. Summit County’s five-year C&D plan aims to divert 50% of C&D waste by 2035. Staff worked collaboratively on this plan with representatives from all neighboring municipalities and the County, as well as stakeholders from the building community and the Summit County Resources Allocation Park (SCRAP). To meet the diversion goal of this plan, it is recommended that the Town adopt an ordinance to accelerate the recovery of C&D materials.

From December 2023 to May 2024, High Country Conservation Center (HC3) collaborated with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) to lead a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process. Outreach methods included:

  • Four zero waste task force meetings which gathered input and built consensus on policy recommendations
  • Two steering committee meetings which focused on strategic oversight and integrating diverse perspectives
  • Workshop for building professionals that engaged industry stakeholders to ensure practical and effective policy measures
  • Survey to building professionals collecting qualitative data on industry practices and challenges
  • Local government officials from different jurisdictions met to ensure alignment with municipal goals and regulations

The outcome of this process is a recommended C&D program applicable to residential and commercial construction projects and includes the following requirements:

  • Construction Materials Management Plan: Builders would need to submit this plan when applying for a building permit, detailing how they will manage and divert C&D materials during the project. This would ensure that recycling and reuse are considered from the start.
  • Diversion of specific C&D materials: Designated materials would be recycled across all project types (new construction, remodels, additions, and demolition). An ordinance would focus on materials recyclable at SCRAP (concrete, carboard, scrap metal, clean wood, and single-stream recycling) while remaining flexible to add new materials as opportunities arise.
  • Refundable deposit system: A financial deposit would be required before the project starts. This deposit would be refundable upon proof of compliance with the diversion requirements, incentivizing adherence to the ordinance. Compliance could possibly be tracked and recorded through the existing software available at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP).

RRS’s policy framework recommends a focus on materials recyclable at SCRAP, encouraging consistency across communities, maximizing diversion impact while avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens, phasing in refundable deposits, and varying deposits by project type and size.

Town Council gave staff direction to return with more information on cost to builders and homeowners (with real world examples) and more data on the potential impact of this program on climate change. Council emphasized that they did not have enough information about the impacts of this program in order to provide more thoughtful and well-informed direction.

Development Agreement with NHP for Workforce Housing at 101 West Main Street

Due to changing the financing method around 100% workforce housing projects in Frisco and the receipt of a grant to the Town of Frisco from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) in the amount of $5 million for the Town to purchase the land at 101 West Main, the previous development agreement with partner the NHP Foundation (NHPF) is no longer sufficient to achieve the Town of Frisco’s and NHPF’s mutual housing and finance goals. As new Council members have been elected to Town Council since this project was last briefed in detail, an overview of the project was provided during this meeting.

It is the staff’s recommendation that the Council consider adopting Ordinance 24-10, an amended and restated development agreement.

This amendment includes an additional loan of $1 million from the Town’s Housing Fund to close a financing gap that is present because Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and $1 million for the Town to purchase 1,500 square feet of commercial condo space, as LIHTC projects cannot fund commercial condo space. Town of Frisco has already committed a $2.5 million loan from the Housing Fund to assist in the purchase of the property at 101 W Main Street with the NHPF. This project includes 52 for rent affordable units will require $36 million in total, and essentially, the Town of Frisco would be contributing $4.5 million to this project: $3.5 would be a loan that could come back to the Town to create more affordable housing projects or programs in the future out of the proceeds of the project, and $1 million would be realized in the ownership by the Town for the 1,500 square foot commercial condominium.

Council approved Ordinance 24-10 amending the development agreement on first reading with the second reading scheduled for the July 23, 2024 Town Council meeting.

Ordinance Amending Limitations Between Schools and Liquor Licensed Facilities

All applicants interested in applying for a liquor license in the Town of Frisco are subject to Federal and State laws and regulations, as well as Frisco’s Town Code. Colorado Liquor Code, Title 44, Article 3, Section 313, titled “Restrictions for applications for new licenses”, establishes a 500 foot distance limitation between certain types of schools and campuses and liquor-licensed facilities, but expressly provides that the governing body of a municipality may “reduce or eliminate” any of those limitations, or may “eliminate” one or more types of schools or campuses from the distance limits.

The Frisco Town Council, through adoption of Ordinance 89-28 on November 21, 1989, established a distance of 250 feet to schools, instead of the otherwise applicable 500 feet under State law. During the work session on March 26, 2024, Town staff’s research revealed a number of Colorado municipalities have completely eliminated the distance limitations for liquor licensed facilities that would otherwise be applicable under state law. Also, this distance requirement has proven challenging in Frisco, as there is now a school located in the business district on Frisco Main Street. During the March meeting, Town Council provided direction to staff to bring back an amendment to this code to eliminate the distance requirement.

Council approved Ordinance 24-08, eliminating this distance requirement, on second reading.