Steamboat Springs resident Nancy Kramer listens as the Steamboat Springs City Council discusses creative ways to increase its community support funding at an all-day budget meeting. Community support spending includes contributions to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and local nonprofit organizations. Kramer was on hand representing local arts and culture organizations. She was seated next to Mark Anderson, who was representing environmental nonprofits.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs resident Nancy Kramer listens as the Steamboat Springs City Council discusses creative ways to increase its community support funding at an all-day budget meeting. Community support spending includes contributions to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and local nonprofit organizations. Kramer was on hand representing local arts and culture organizations. She was seated next to Mark Anderson, who was representing environmental nonprofits.

City furloughs will stay in 2010

City's conservative budget builds on this year's drastic reductions

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Towny Anderson, president of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, speaks to the Steamboat Springs City Council during its annual budget retreat Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Hall.

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City councilwoman Cari Hermacinski discusses the budget and attempts to discover some way to support community groups in a tough Steamboat Springs economy.

City of Steamboat Springs' sales tax revenues

2008/2009 original/2009 projected/2010 budget

$19,607,176/$18,570,240/$16,500,000/$14,900,000

— Most city workers will continue to work just four days a week - and receive 90 percent of their pay - through next year under a proposed 2010 budget reviewed by the Steamboat Springs City Council at a daylong meeting Tuesday.

City Manager Jon Roberts said he had hoped to reverse the moves to reduce personnel costs, which also include hiring and pay freezes.

"But that is not the case. Unfortunately, the projection for 2010 is going in the wrong direction," said Roberts, referring to projections that city revenues will drop another 10 percent in 2010 after the 18 percent drop expected this year. "We scrubbed down every single program and every single dollar."

The $39.5 million budget includes an operating budget with $22.7 million in expenditures. That's down from $26.4 million in general fund expenditures just two years ago in 2008. Additional cost-saving measures discussed Tuesday include reductions in firefighter training, a new snowplowing schedule, and an increase in lift ticket and season pass prices at Howelsen Hill.

The council will give preliminary consideration to the budget this month.

The budget also includes transfers from the general fund, such as $151,670 to repair slope failures that occurred this spring on Howelsen Hill. The city also plans to transfer $1.6 million to its capital improvements fund to help pay for projects next year and shore up reserves in that budget.

Only $3.9 million is budgeted for capital projects next year. Most of the money is coming from grants or other sources besides the city, or is being spent on projects the city is contractually required to pay for.

The capital list includes $1.7 million for U.S. Highway 40 improvements that Steamboat 700 will pay for if it is annexed, $90,000 for baseball field improvements required by the city's contract with Triple Crown Sports and $700,000 for the city's pavement maintenance program.

Some council members remain skeptical that those budget reductions will be enough to balance the budget. Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said projections that the city will collect $500,000 and $400,000 in building-use tax and excise tax, respectively, may be too optimistic and could require further subsidies of the capital budget from the general fund.

"I have no confidence at all that the building industry is coming back," she said.

Councilwoman Meg Bentley said she fears that the reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs this fall and spring will have a big negative impact on sales tax collections.

Other notes from Tuesday's budget retreat include:

- Financial reserves that fell dangerously low in the city's water and wastewater funds are projected to increase by the end of 2010. The water fund's reserve, for example, is expected to increase from about $15,000 to about $390,000.

- Since 2008, the Planning and Community Development Department has taken the biggest percentage of budget hits, at 40 percent. The Public Safety Department has been affected least, by percentage, at about 8 percent.

- By dollar amount, the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department has absorbed the most budget cuts in the same time period, at about $850,000. The city's legal department and Municipal Court have been cut least, at about $125,000.

- Ken Solomon was the only non-incumbent candidate in this year's City Council election to attend the meeting in Centennial Hall. Solomon will face Kenny Reisman in the District 2 race.

- Unlike the situation during the last City Council election year, the current council will not try to pass the budget before the new council is seated. The second reading of the budget ordinance is scheduled after Nov. 3.

- New surcharges approved by the city this year on municipal violations are expected to raise about $20,000 in 2010 and will offset cuts to the Steamboat Springs Police Department's training budget.

Comments

steamboatsprings 5 years ago

Great job Council. I appreciate your thoughtful management of a difficult fiscal situation and the long hours you dedicate to serving the rest of us. It's easy to complain about this or that but all to easy to forget those of you that serve us so well.

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