Our view: Nonprofit groups should tighten belts

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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 editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— 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.

Comments

OneFly 5 years, 9 months ago

Yea-things are different now. Many are struggling and worried and the reality is that these conditions will get worse before they recover. As usual the real reason behind these conditions nation wide is never mentioned and the one word answer is IRAQ. You know that place over there in the desert with all the oil the one we invaded and now occupy based on the lies of a few. With Iran in the sights of these same criminals kiss any chance of recovery goodby if there is a strike against them. We must leave there now and just because BO says we will means nothing. So all you illegal war loving supporters get after this and me so I can laugh myself to sleep.

So the city will need to tighten it's belt to meet demands. A good place to start would be with the Golf Advisory Committee for Haymaker GC. A supposedly "volunteer" group. It is hardly that when for 10 years they get fed at every meeting they have. That's got to add up to 2-3K a year easy. In addition each member and their spouse get free golf plus some take prime time tee times during the busiest time of the year. Add up these cost factors and you end up with a very significant number. There are millionaires in this group and this organization does not fit the definition of volunteers. What it really is is welfare for the rich and I call foul no let's make it double foul!

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sieverding 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't understand how the Haymaker Golf Course became city owned. Does it break even or is it subsidized? As I understand it, Haymaker, the city's 3rd golf course, was built to increase real estate values. Then , Lettunich & Vanderbloemen, also the city attorney, asked that their client "Haymaker", get a debt guarantee by the city on the argument that the debt guarantee would cost the city nothing and that the golf course would boost the economy. That must have been 1998. Then it was somehow transferred to the city--I couldn't find the sequence of events. You probably know that nationally a lot of golf courses are doing poorly. Costs of maintenance increased, water shortages, older customers, and now people are worried about pesticide exposure while golfing. One option working in some places is "frisbee golf", which doesn't need the smooth grass. Please comment if you can read this post

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