Town officials mull over next year's budget

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— When the Hayden Town Board adopts next year's budget Thursday evening, it will do so with optimism toward the future but common sense about the here and now.

A predicted 17 percent decline in 2002 sales-tax revenues, or a loss of $100,000, for the town affected the approach town officials took in budgeting for next year, Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel said.

"We were definitely more conservative about the way we looked at how we spent the money," Straebel said.

The town depends on Yampa Valley Regional Airport for one-third of its sales-tax revenue.

Revenue will likely decrease as fewer passengers fly into the airport this ski season, he said.

A majority of the town's sales tax from the airport surprisingly comes from car rentals from the airport to Steamboat Springs, Straebel added.

"If they're not flying in, they're not driving," he said.

Straebel said projected expenditures exceed revenues by about $74,000, but conservative estimates on revenues leave the door open for unanticipated boosts from the town's sales-tax revenues or grants.

In case of emergencies, the town can count on $50,000, which has been earmarked for unexpected expenditures for the next year, he said.

Local organizations that depend on the town's support do not need to worry about a cut in their funding, Straebel said.

Almost $47,000 will still go toward 18 organizations next year, but the money will already be budgeted to avoid representatives individually asking the town throughout the year for the money, he said.

With projected sales-tax revenues dropping from $600,000 to $500,000, the town compensated for the $100,000 projected loss by cutting back on infrastructure projects, Town Trustee Ken Gibbon said.

Projects such as paving the streets will receive only $50,000 next year in comparison to last year's $180,000 allocation.

"We've had more streets paved since we annexed the airport," Gibbon said. "We've gotten used to some luxuries.

"We won't have all those luxuries next year."

After the city of Steamboat Springs took measures to trim its budget in anticipation of smaller revenue, he said, it became clear Hayden would need to go in the same direction.

The forecast, however, does not need to be entirely grim, he said. The town can adopt a supplemental budget if revenues fare better than expected.

"If the year turns out great, we can go ahead and spend the money, but if it doesn't, at least we don't look like we didn't have any foresight," Gibbon said.

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