Jessika Buell will bring to the Council her entrepreneurial experience as an employer and local business owner, as well as her out-of-the-box thinking which helped her businesses prosper during the economic downturn. Jessika is the owner and operator of three businesses in the City of Durango. She wants to use her business knowledge to help eliminate bureaucratic red tape and spur job creation.
I recognize the fiduciary obligations the city councilors are beholden to, and I aspire to be an example of responsible fiscal conservatism, transparent oversight and ethical adherence. My approach to the budgetary process and the subsequent oversight of the implementation of that budget by our city will be to ensure that every dollar is thoughtfully and appropriately utilized and accounted for. As a business owner, I’m well equipped to provide valuable insight and judicious oversight to the budgetary process.
Expenses are up revenue is down. What do we do?
1. Current council created the SALT FAB board- the Strategic and long term finance advisory board to solve this. Lets really consider their recommendations.
Second, One of the biggest issues is that we are a sales tax dominate county. And as the internet continues to be a place people turn to to shop- we are losing sales tax revenue. It is a reality that every city in our country is facing. We are not alone. Which is why two things should be the focus of City council
1- Promoting LOCAL shopping and local business support as much as possible. Partner with organizations like Local First and realizing how much the dollar when spent locally benefits us in so many ways. Sales tax, employment, our local businesses will put back into our community by donating to local non profits, etc…
2- Supreme court Wayfair decision requires internet companies to collect sales tax & revert taxes back. But CO is one of the hardest states to do this! We have over 600 taxing entities in our state. CO is in the process of trying to refine this to be aligned with Wayfair. Durango NEEDS to take a leadership role with this group.
Most communities and their basic services (police, streets, etc) are funded by property tax. In La Plata County we are one of the lowest in the state and country for property taxes, so we have to use sales tax for almost all of this. SO with our budget… I think we need to look at what we value. Do you value paved roads? Do we value attainable housing? Do we value sustainable growth?
This is one of the big reasons I am running for City Council- I want my boys to be able to afford a home in Durango if they choose to work and live in Durango as adults. I do believe that the City supports and wants attainable housing. They support the Homes Fund, Loan programs & assistance, and created a very comprehensive housing plan that literally thought of everything. As a City Councilor, I will support this plan (of course) but more importantly, hold the planning department accountable for what is in there and following through with the plan. Because it is A LOT. And will require a lot of funding and creativity. One of the key elements to this being successful, is I believe WE NEED TO PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR DEVELOPERS TO BUILD ATTAINABLE HOUSING. Grants, programs, initiatives. We cant say we want attainable housing- we need to do it. Its easy to get behind glamorous projects like a new library or the shiny Durango Mesa development. But are we willing to spend money on the things we say we really need- like housing?
We have some dedicated taxes sunsetting in the future. Does the community think they will renew it to pay for affordable housing? To buy land for it? To provide incentives for developers to build it? We say we really value attainable housing and economic development…will we vote to potentially pay for it- Infrastructure, housing, business, transit? Those aren’t glamorous things… but they are essential to smart growth and remaining the Durango I fell in love with 19 years ago- a REAL town.
One of the core and critical elements of Durango’s character is that it’s a “real town” with a diverse and enriching spectrum of people and socio-economic realities. Our values are inclusive and our housing opportunities need to reflect the same. It’s critical that we make every effort as our community responds to change and growth to offer as many diverse housing opportunities as possible. One of the core and critical elements of Durango’s character is that it’s a “real town” with a diverse and enriching spectrum of people and socio-economic realities. Our values are inclusive and our housing opportunities need to reflect the same. Density issues, the comprehensive development plan, affordable housing initiatives, accessory dwelling units, parking requirements and other development and enforcement issues are going to be integral to shaping how our community grows, and if it provides for housing opportunities for the widest spectrum of our citizens as possible.
“The only constant is change.” Though we may wish it wasn’t so sometimes, much of the challenge and opportunity facing our community is how to grow and change without drifting off course. I want our community to strive toward a sustainable purpose, to hope to become a place where my boys, and all of our other young community members, can reasonably consider living here if they want to. I want them to have opportunities for them to work in meaningful and rewarding careers, to have reasonable expectations to be able to afford housing, and the local cost of living at every stage of their lives. This is not growth at all costs. This is growth carefully fostered and guided by the core character elements of our community as foundational.
I am absolutely For the lodgers tax and for the allocation. I’m excited that all three enterprises (Lodgers Association, Tourism Office & Arts and Culture Community) came together and all agreed (first time in 30 years this has happened). This is a win. I believe that when we collect a tax, it should be spent to benefit the thing that is taxed. For example- if we take a fee for the fire district, we need to spend that money of fire district. Same should apply for Lodgers tax and I think we came to a good consensus.
30% of economy is tourism, whether you like tourists in Durango or not. We NEED THEM to survive. I’m excited for the marketing money for tourism to focus on stretching our visitors into the off seasons and shoulder seasons. Keeping our lodging full then, restaurants busy then, shops visited then. We are a sales tax based community and need to support our tourism- to bring money to our City through people shopping in our local stores and dining in our local restaurants- the sales tax they pay goes back into our community. When we take away from tourism marketing we miss out on the reach of our marketing and this is detrimental. We need new visitors coming to Durango to shop in our Downtown stores and keep Downtown Durango vibrant. Tourists have an entire globe to go to and we have to stay competitive with our tourism marketing. We have been at a 2% lodgers tax forever and everyone else has been at 5% or over forever. In my mind, even with approving the increase we will still be below where a lot of our competitors are. We can’t argue about the economy if you aren’t going to support the biggest part of our economy in a REAL way- making real money all year around.
Small business really is the heart of this community. As a small business owner (one of them being a gym) I was directly affected by the shut downs last year. Its scary to see all your hard work being threatened by shut downs and limitations on capacity. Through this pandemic we have seen the closures of many of the places we love in Durango. I think a big question is what can we do to make sure we don’t shut down our small businesses again? With already empty spaces along Main we want to make sure we don’t lose any others and our downtown remains vibrant as we get on the other side of this. I know it is not City Councils job to determine when we shut down and how… that is SJBH- but we can help and advocate for creativity. CREATIVITY from a group that should be leading the way- City Council. Lets work for more initiatives like BID’s and the Chambers push for the 5 star program. I think anything to make our downtown more walkable, giving our downtown businesses more useable outdoor space, and making sure it is cost effective is positive.
The bump-out program, maybe permanently, could be a great option. This type of creativity is exactly what we need from city council to make sure our downtown stays full and vibrant.
Jessika is committed to continuing to build a better city and advocating for you, but she can’t do it without your support. From putting a sign in your yard, walking your neighborhood to rally support, and so much more; your support is needed!
Your donation is an opportunity to be part of something bigger. Your donation will help Jessika continue on her path to become a Durango City Councilor and provide dedicated leadership to our city.
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