Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- Paul Draper, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs The message could not be clearer for local groups and programs that receive community support funding from the city: Don't count on those dollars.
Forty-six such groups - primarily nonprofit organizations and including Seminars at Steamboat, Yampa Valley Recycles and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council - are requesting a total of $2.32 million in the city's 2009 budget through community support allocations. That's a 31 percent increase compared to community support funding in 2008.
Such an increase might not be available next year, and all 46 of those groups should be looking for alternative funding sources and contingency plans.
They have had two such warnings in the past year.
In October 2007, City Manager Alan Lanning and Bob Litzau, then the city's interim finance director, proposed $500,000 in community support cuts, leading to a strong public outcry and the restoration of most of that funding in the city's 2008 budget.
Lanning acknowledged at the time that the proposal was essentially a warning shot that gave notice of likely future shortages. That is proving prophetic.
Last week, finance staff for the city of Steamboat Springs projected a 4 percent decrease in sales tax revenues in 2009, from the $19.34 million in this year's budget to $18.57 million next year.
Sales tax is the city's primary source of revenue and has been growing steadily in recent years. To see a projected drop in sales tax is alarming in the face of increasing demands for services, inflation and costs for needs including transportation and affordable housing - all under the umbrella of a slowing economy and its ripple effects of decreased tourism and travel.
Finance Director Lisa Rolan and Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said tough choices are ahead for city staff and the Steamboat Springs City Council, as the 2009 budget is created and approved.
Many of those tough choices likely will involve community support allocations. But those allocations often are wants that pale before needs such as infrastructure improvements and city services.
This is not to say that funding for programs such as the Yampa Valley Land Trust, Free Summer Concert Series or Vision 2030 should or will be cut entirely next year. And some beneficiaries of community support funding, such as Routt County Search and Rescue, provide vital services and have a strong case for continued city support.
But by and large, community support beneficiaries should plan to be weaned off their annual boost from city funding and look for other financial resources.
There are many examples of our community's generosity: private donations helped build a turf field at Steamboat Springs High School and a new pavilion for Strings Music Festival. Donations and grants have been a huge boost to efforts to build new, universal playgrounds at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools.
The economic downturn is increasingly impacting families, businesses and budgets across the nation. Routt County is no exception. Stories are common about people cutting back car travel to save on gas, reducing frivolous spending to pay for groceries and trimming expenses to save for essentials.
The city of Steamboat Springs will do the same in coming months. We hope the nonprofit organizations and programs that help form the fabric of our community are making plans to stay afloat.