Mountain News: Aspen government continues to cut staff 

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen's city government has laid off 12 employees and eliminated four other positions. This is the third round of reductions during the last year. While Aspen a year ago was expecting a dramatic downturn in revenues, the slowdown has been even more substantial. Sales tax revenues through July have been down 18 per cent, while lodging taxes were down 27 per cent, and fees for development were off by 46 per cent, reports the Aspen Times . City officials are projecting a 1.5 per cent increase in sales and lodging taxes for next year and no change in fees collected for building and planning.


Age no barrier to cheating

VAIL, Colo. - Nearly 300 cases of deceptive use of a ski pass were reported last ski season on Vail Mountain. And not all of them were adolescents or even twentysomethings. Vail Municipal Judge Buck Allen tells the Vail Mountaineer that he didn't tabulate the number of 50- to 60-year-olds, but they were conspicuous enough to be noticed. Some 170 people were prosecuted for trying to share their season passes with friends.


Shop-local programs sort of work

JACKSON, Wyo. - Shop-local campaigns have been underway in various mountains valleys of the West. They've had varying degrees of success - and also provoked some pushback.

In Colorado, officials in Basalt had hoped to drum up local business by offering $30 gift certificates to shoppers for each cumulative $300 they spent at participating shops and restaurants. Still, sales in restaurants and bars fell 29 per cent in July, and general retail was off 41 per cent, reports the Aspen Times .

Maybe the decline would have been worse without the program, town officials wonder.

Basalt's so-so success hasn't dissuaded Carbondale, a few miles west, from launching something similar. There, town officials have plunked down $30,000 toward a three-month program leading up to Christmas. Every $25 in purchases yields a ticket, making its owner a possible winner of various prizes. As Carbondale may be the centre of the green-thinking universe, the grand prize would be an electric car.

Included are businesses that cater to the town's substantial population of Latinos.

In Wyoming, Roger Hayden writes in the Jackson Hole News & Guide to issue a proposition to the shop-local campaigners. A 16-year resident, he says he has shopped locally the whole time, even though it always cost more. He promises to continue doing so - but only if the stores hire U.S. citizens.

"With so many locals out of work in this dismal economy, employers have the pool of labor from which to hire, an option many claimed they lacked during boom times," he writes in a letter published in the newspaper. "Now, employers have no excuse for hiring foreign workers, legal or illegal."

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