Sage Sullivan, 14, tries on a coat Saturday at Allen’s clothing store in downtown Steamboat Springs. The 2010 sales tax revenues came in at about $16.7 million, compared with the nearly $15 million initially forecast.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Sage Sullivan, 14, tries on a coat Saturday at Allen’s clothing store in downtown Steamboat Springs. The 2010 sales tax revenues came in at about $16.7 million, compared with the nearly $15 million initially forecast.

Sales tax boost cuts Steamboat's deficit

Unexpected 2010 revenues to help reduce reserve spending

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Past Event

Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

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Agenda highlights

(All times after 5 p.m. are estimates and subject to change)

5 p.m. Joint meeting with Board of Routt County Commissioners, including discussion of whether to suspend, or set a specific deadline for, applications to expand the urban growth boundary, given the upcoming update of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan

6:30 p.m. Discussion of fire district consolidation efforts, ideas and recommendations

7 p.m. Public comment; continuation of fire district discussion

7:30 p.m. Resolution to restrict trucks weighing more than 12,000 pounds from using new Crawford Spur Road, excepting transit and construction vehicles; public hearings involving land use and zoning changes for site known as Casey’s Pond subdivision; presentation of preliminary, year-end city budget numbers for 2010

— Steamboat Springs’ general fund pays for the city’s day-to-day operations and is a system of interlocking cogs that can simultaneously rise and fall, show surplus revenues and deficit spending, increase in some areas and decrease in others.

That’s to say nothing of the city’s entire budget, which, for example, is facing dire shortfalls in capital improvement dollars for future large projects such as a new police department building and expansion of the Yampa River Core Trail.

The budget’s complexity means any positive numbers usually have strings attached elsewhere.

But nonetheless, when city Finance Director Deb Hinsvark presents a preliminary report of 2010 year-end general fund figures to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night in Centennial Hall, the overall message, she said, will be positive.

More than $1.7 million in unexpected sales tax revenues will cut into the nearly $3.3 million in reserve spending the city was facing for 2010’s final budget, meaning the city will have to spend only about $1.6 million from its reserves to make ends meet in its general fund.

“We had a real positive year with our sales tax,” Hinsvark said.

The 2010 sales tax revenues came in at about $16.7 million, compared with the nearly $15 million initially forecast.

Steamboat Springs began 2010 with about $14.8 million in general fund reserves, Hinsvark said. Although reserve spending was expected to bring that balance down to about $11.5 million at the beginning of 2011, the boost from clacking local cash registers means that balance will fall to only about $13.2 million.

The city went deeper into the red in 2010, though, than in any year since at least 2004. Steamboat increased its general fund in 2005 and 2006, decreased it very slightly in 2007 and saw increases in 2008 and 2009.

Hinsvark’s presentation Tues­­day includes a broad look at the city’s general fund during the past six years. She said Steamboat’s management team knows 2010 could have been much worse during the nation’s continuing struggles amid a recessionary economy.

“We’re taking pride in the fact that we did as well as we did this year,” Hinsvark said.

Fiery topic

Also Tuesday night, the City Council will discuss an updated recommendation for the consolidation of local fire districts.

The recommendation inv­­olves forming an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the rural Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District to transfer fire and emergency services to the Fire District as soon as Jan. 1, 2012. The city would then pay the Fire District an annual fee for services.

That essentially would flip the current arrangement. The rural Fire District assesses a property tax on its residents, who live in areas surrounding Steamboat, and contracts with the city for fire and emergency services in those areas.

Such a change would be in preparation for a vote, possibly within the next three to five years, asking area residents to approve a property tax within city limits.

Those property tax revenues would replace the city’s annual fee to the Fire District and provide a permanent source of funding for a consolidated district that would service the city and surrounding areas.

Fire Chief Ron Lindroth and interim City Manager Wendy DuBord wrote in a recommendation to the City Council that consolidating the two entities would have several benefits, primarily financial.

“The city will be taking steps to permanently divest itself from maintaining and operating fire and rescue services, and contracting with a governmental agency whose sole focus will be providing these services to the community,” the recommendation states. “By doing so, the community will receive an appropriate service level, realize the cost savings from area cooperation, and separate emergency services funding from competing interests within the city.”

The Fire District’s board of directors announced in December its intention to bring a property tax and consolidation proposal before voters this year.

The new recommendation suggests that instead, a public education program could take place in coming years, ahead of a future vote, while the intergovernmental agreement is in place.

Tuesday’s discussion of the issue is informational only. The recommendation suggests development and approval of an intergovernmental agreement by the middle of this year to allow transfer of services in 2012.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

Regarding fire district, can more than 3 days pass before local government trying to pass off more current responsibilities from their budgets onto the taxpayers via a property tax?

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