By the numbers
City of Steamboat Springs community support spending
* Not yet proposed or approved; based on direction to decrease spending by 10 percent from 2009
Source: City of Steamboat Springs, budgets
To serve on one of the city's new Community Support Allocation Committees, call Mark Andersen, of the Environmental Coalition, at 846-9355 or Nancy Kramer of the Arts and Culture Coalition at 846-2969. Applications are available at City Hall, 137 10th St., or on the city's Web site at www.steamboatspri.... They are due by 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15.
Steamboat Springs There will be no shortage of drama when the Steamboat Springs City Council attempts to cut spending by 10 percent in 2010, but the governing body has taken steps to distance itself from one of the more emotionally charged aspects of the budget process.
The planned 10 percent cut to spending citywide amounts to about $2 million and comes on top of massive budget cuts this year - including a furlough program that has seen city employees' pay and hours cut by 10 percent - that amounted to a 13 percent reduction in spending from 2008. Steamboat Springs' sales tax collections decreased by 21.5 percent in June compared with June 2008. The city collected less than $1.2 million in sales tax in June, compared with about $1.5 million for the month last year. That puts the year-to-date collections at $8.7 million, compared with $10.5 million year-to-date at this time last year. That's a 16.8 percent decrease.
With the help of volunteers, the city has created a new framework for its community support spending, a relatively small but emotional portion of the city budget that goes toward organizations dedicated to areas such as the arts, human services and the environment. The city doesn't plan to spare the spending from additional cuts this year, but the new process should depoliticize decisions.
"We did request they stay within a 10 percent reduction just like we're requesting for all the departments," interim Finance Director Bob Litzau said.
The city is modeling the new process on the one subsection of community support spending that everyone seems to agree works well: the Human Resource Coalition. The coalition, which is led by Routt County United Way, receives a lump sum allocation from the city and distributes it to various health and human resource organizations in Routt County.
"For years, we've been trying to clean up the community support process," Litzau said. "The thought was if we could set up some committees like the HRC ... that it would be easier not only for the nonprofits but for council."
Resident Nancy Kramer approached the city with a willingness to set up a process, and there are now two more coalitions modeled after the HRC. Instead of reviewing individual budget requests from dozens of organizations, the council now will deal primarily with the three coalitions. The Arts and Culture Coalition, led by Kramer, will include organizations such as the Free Summer Concert Series and Steamboat Springs Arts Council. The Environmental Coalition, led by former United Way Director Mark Andersen, will include organizations such as Yampa Valley Recycles and Yampatika.
"I think the benefits are you probably get a more meaningful allocation of the money," said Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, who said the HRC has been running like "a finely tuned machine for 10 years now."
The coalitions' memberships will consist of member nonprofit organizations. An allocation committee of residents for each coalition will decide how to divvy up money between the organizations, Andersen said.
"We encourage people to be involved in the process because it is tax dollars," Andersen said.
Hermacinski said members likely will have more expert knowledge of the organizations being funded, while council members may not have historic knowledge of them.
"They can ask the important questions," Hermacinski said.
Litzau and Hermacinski said the council still will have an opportunity to review individual organizations' allocations and make changes if it wants. Also, some organizations - such as Routt County Search and Rescue, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, the city's Fourth of July fireworks display and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association - don't fit into any of the coaltions and still will be individually reviewed.
The Chamber's summer marketing budget is undergoing a separate review of its own, aimed at identifying the appropriate amount of money necessary to effectively market Steamboat's summer offerings.
Litzau said he hopes to give council members their 2010 budget workbooks about three weeks before their all-day budget retreat Oct. 6.
To serve on one of the city's new Community Support Allocation Committees, call Mark Andersen, of the Environmental Coalition, at 846-9355 or Nancy Kramer of the Arts and Culture Coalition at 846-2969. Applications are available at City Hall, 137 10th St., or on the city's Web site at www.steamboatsprings.net. They are due by 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15.