Council restores funds

Proposed community support programs cuts rejected, spark discussion

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Budget talks

The Steamboat Springs City Council spent all day Tuesday discussing the 2008 budget.

The Steamboat Springs City Council spent all day Tuesday discussing the 2008 budget.

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Steamboat Springs City Council member Loui Antonucci listens to a lengthy budget discussion during a meeting at Centennial Hall in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon. The Council on Tuesday overturned a proposal to cut funding for community support programs in the proposed 2008 city budget, restoring about $500,000 to organizations such as Yampa Valley Housing Authority and Seminars at Steamboat. The proposed budget still must go through first and second readings with the Council before adoption by the end of the year.

— City officials Tuesday pledged funding for community support programs, overturning an initial proposal that could have meant massive budget cuts to organizations such as the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and Seminars at Steamboat.

The Steamboat Springs City Council, as expected, restored about $500,000 of funding to community support programs, during an all-day discussion of the 2008 city budget at Centennial Hall. While Tuesday's discussion set parameters for how the city will allocate more than $50 million in 2008 - not including a proposed $34 million recreation center that is up for voter approval in November - the entire budget still must go through first and second readings with the City Council before adoption by the end of the year.

While a relatively small part of city spending, community support funding is a personal issue for many Steamboat Springs residents. City Manager Alan Lanning and interim Finance Director Bob Litzau submitted a proposed budget that cut community support spending by more than 30 percent. When it was all said and done, however, the City Council restored funding to a level nearly identical to 2007's $1.6 million allotment.

Litzau said the goal of decreasing community support funding in the proposed budget was "to bring a larger internal focus to the budget process this year." On Monday, Lanning said projects such as water lines, sewer lines, buses and streets all deserve more attention, as evidenced by a Sept. 11 water line break that left much of the west side of Steamboat without water service.

While the initial motion was to fund all community support programs at the levels they requested, City Council did not write a blank check. The council rejected a request from the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp for $10,000 to help fund a 95th anniversary celebration - after Litzau noted that the school has unrestricted reserves of $2.6 million.

City Council also curbed some organizations' requests when they asked for funding well above their 2007 level. The Free Summer Concert Series, for example, received $33,000 in 2007 and requested $45,000 for 2008. Council approved only $40,000.

Councilman Loui Antonucci said increases in funding are appropriate because the cost of doing business goes up, but noted that the city holds itself to a 5 or 6 percent growth in spending and should expect the same from the organizations it supports.

Councilman Towny Anderson said one reason he opposed Lanning and Litzau's proposed cuts was because they were unexpected and would put organizations in a difficult situation.

"This came as a surprise, not just to us, but to everyone in the room," Councilman Towny Anderson said.

Antonucci agreed.

"This year wasn't a good year to cut back because we're blindsiding people," he said.

Lanning and Litzau's statement wasn't totally lost on council members, however. Ideas for improving the budget process in regard to community support spending were discussed. Councilman Paul Strong suggested the city set total community support spending as a percentage of the general fund, which would provide a firm number to work with and allow community support spending to rise and fall with the financial fortunes of the city.

"We need to take the amount of money we're spending more seriously," Council President Susan Dellinger said. "This is nuts."

Dellinger said programs could survive without such large subsidies from the city.

"If it's a value to the community, the community will support it," Dellinger said.

Lanning seemed pleased with the effect his proposal had on council members.

"Our goal was intended to invoke this very conversation," Lanning said.

Other budget highlights include the proposed addition of six new city employees, three each for the public works and planning departments. The increased difficulty of finding quality employees is reflected in the city's human resources budget, which proposes an additional $120,000 for recruitment. City staff members are also proposing $25,000 to replace a city vehicle in the Deputy City Manager's department with a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.

Comments

Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 6 months ago

All you moochers of the City's funds are on notice for next year. Good Job, Alan

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

Evidently, Malcolm, the "moochers" seem to be a strong enough voting block to say you're wrong and give Council a reason to worry.

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buck 6 years, 6 months ago

The City should concentrate on what they are tasked with, not giving money away. Repair streets and utilities and provide safety (police and firefighting departments). No more, no less. If they are giving money away, as has been done for years, they obviously collect too much taxes.

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retiredinss 6 years, 6 months ago

Buck-

You should look at the City spending by category. I'm going to guess that recreational spending--parks, trails, Howelsen, etc. is the largest single component of the city spending, and not one those items you mentioned

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 6 months ago

Drats! Now we're going to have to put up wth free concerts, and more arts, the 4th of July fireworks, and anything with parades, and more fluff for another WHOLE year!!!

A culture defines itself by its arts and traditions. Shouldn't the council be involved in finding out what our community values and support that? Yes, roads, bridges, police and firefighters, and safety are important to all of us, but they help protect us and our cultural heritage.

$500,000 is nothing in the scheme of things. A home without art and its appreciation is a home undefined.

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ijustlookhi 6 years, 6 months ago

Basically along with many in this community I could care less about tourism dollars!!!! Let's just please consider the people of the community, the children and not just the loudest interest groups or business owners...the city does not owe business owners and groups at the expense of the people who live here pay taxes and don't give a hoot about tourists!!!!!!!!...frankly while the concerts are great we are paying tax money for a nice B&K Distributing cash cow...

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

Lookhi- I'm too lazy to find it, but it was recently reported that a majority of our sales tax revenue comes from tourists. Guess which taxes pay for almost EVERYTHING in Steamboat? Sure ain't property taxes since Steamboat thru that out the window 2 decades ago.

So, guess what happens when no more tourists come? Not only will the arts not receive any more money, neither will most services you want to see paid for such as City roads, etc. Then, the City will HAVE to institute property taxes to pay for those services. Guess who then pays for everything? You and all the people who live here! Congrats! You just came up with a way to pay for more taxes for all locals!

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