City searches for solutions to budget cuts

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council will not start budget talks until October but is already looking for ways to ease the pain of deciding what to cut.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council worked on establishing a set of guidelines for funding nonprofit organizations.

"In a year where we are having to cut so much out of the budget, there is going to be a lot of reaction that comes from supporting particular items. We do not want to be reactionary. It helps for the community to understand what we are doing," Connell said.

The council decided to put community support items with contractual agreements into the budgets of city departments.

City Manager Paul Hughes said over the last few years budget items for Olympic support, Routt County Search and Rescue, the firework displays and the Pro Rodeo Series have been consistently funded.

The council decided those items could also be funded under different city departments, such as Public Safety and Parks, Open Space and Recreation.

The council also agreed to determine what nonprofits to fund by how they fit into the city's mission statement and vision.

Councilman Loui Antonucci also recommended that nonprofits requesting money explain how much of their budgets depend on city support. He pointed to the Tread of Pioneers Museum, which came close to closing its doors after receiving $15,000 less in funding than expected.

"We know that people request money but we don't understand how it affects them," Antonucci said.

Last year the city budgeted $480,000 for community support.

Councilman Paul Strong pointed out the city had allocated $350,873 for community support in 1998, a number that jumped to $569,000 in three years.

Strong said the increase in community support came from the upsurge in revenue sparked by the building use tax. But as the economy declines and construction returns to normal, that revenue boost is no longer present.

"We need to see where (the funding) was before. We need to look before it got to be artificial and to unsustainable levels," Strong said.

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