Steamboat Springs expects $2M surplus from tax revenues | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs expects $2M surplus from tax revenues

Additional funds could fulfill unmet community support, deferred capital projects

Mac Carmony launches out of the bowl Monday at Bear River Skatepark on the city’s west side. The city is projecting about $2 million in excess sales tax revenues this year





Mac Carmony launches out of the bowl Monday at Bear River Skatepark on the city's west side. The city is projecting about $2 million in excess sales tax revenues this year, and one possible use of the funds is $135,000 for a much-requested access road to the park. The allocations, though, will be subject to future City Council decisions.
John F. Russell

— The city is projecting more than $2 million in surplus sales tax revenues this year and could allocate much of the money to numerous community groups, local events and deferred maintenance projects.

City Finance Director Deb Hinsvark prepared an analysis of the city's first quarter 2011 finances, which she'll present to Steamboat Springs City Council tonight in Centennial Hall.

The document includes an assessment of sales tax revenues this year and a detailed list of numerous potential allocations, which include $75,000 for Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association marketing, more than $20,000 for Routt County Search and Rescue, $60,000 for the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, more than $100,000 for bike and pedestrian signage and lane striping, $135,000 for an access road to Bear River Skatepark on the city's west side, and more.

All the allocations are subject to future City Council decisions and simply are a recommendation from Hinsvark, who could not be reached Monday for comment. But City Manager Jon Roberts said Hinsvark's projections are more than optimistic speculation.

"She has great confidence in the numbers. Those numbers assume that after last month, from here forward, our (sales tax) revenues stay flat with last year," Roberts said. "She thinks there's a good chance that our revenues will be higher than what's reflected in that report."

The city budgeted for a 10 percent decrease in sales tax revenues this year, compared with 2010, copying the conservative strategy also used a year ago.

The city finished 2010 with about 1 percent less total sales tax revenue than 2009, a figure that was well within the budgeted 10 percent decrease last year and — like projections for 2011 — resulted in excess revenues.

March sales tax revenues were 8.6 percent greater than revenues in March 2010 and put the city in the black year-to-date, at 2.4 percent above total collections for the first three months of 2010. Those results likely contributed to Hinsvark's projections for the rest of 2011.

Many of the recommended allocations for excess revenues this year would go to local groups that made requests the city was not able to fully meet during its budgeting process last fall.

"What we had told those groups was that if funding became available, we would take their funding to requested amounts," Roberts said.

The recommendation includes nearly $20,000 for Routt County Riders, for example, and $5,000 for the city's Fourth of July fireworks.

Other allocations would go toward unexpected expenses that have arisen so far in 2011. Hinsvark recommends $195,000, for example, to compensate for increasing fuel costs and increased fuel usage for snowplows and other city equipment during the big-snow winter.

A "High-Water Initiative" could receive $63,000, including equipment and staffing to deal with flooding and runoff-related damage, such as the recent mudslides and repairs on River Road.

The projected extra revenue comes as the city is undertaking massive water and wastewater infrastructure projects, and has received criticism from some property owners burdened by tap fee increases implemented Jan. 1.

Roberts said water and wastewater funds, though, are enterprise — or self-sustaining — funds that receive revenue from utility bills and tap fees, and are separate from the city's sales-tax-fueled general fund.

Roberts said removal of furloughs for city employees also is not mentioned in the report because such a removal would involve long-term, multiyear costs.

"The economy appears to have turned around enough where Deb (Hinsvark) and I feel comfortable approving one-time expenditures," Roberts said. "We're not comfortable with recommending expenditures that would carry on past the end of the year."

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com