Steamboat has no major cuts in 2012 budget

City delays capital projects to meet existing needs while preparing for future

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Budget schedule

8 to 8:30 a.m.: 2012 proposed budget presentation

8:30 to 9:45 a.m.: Six-year capital projects budget presentation

9:45 to 10 a.m.: Break

10 a.m. to noon: General fund operations budget presentation

Noon to 1 p.m.: Lunch

1 to 2 p.m.: Enterprise funds and fleet fund budgets presentation

2 to 2:15 p.m.: Local marketing district budget presentation

2:15 to 2:45 p.m.: Community support allocation presentation

2:45 to 3 p.m.: Break

3 to 3:30 p.m.: Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association presentation

3:30 to 4 p.m.: Public comment

4 to 4:30 p.m.: Review of revisions and amendments, budget wrap up

— Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts said a proposed 2012 budget was balanced without significant cuts to programs and services. The more than $700,000 in cuts will reduce services in the Transit and Parks, Open Spaces and Recreational Services departments. The budget will be presented to the City Council, along with those specific recommended cuts, during daylong hearings that start at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Transit Department cuts include delaying the start of winter bus service and eliminating a route in late spring. Parks and Rec Department cuts include eliminating several parks events, reducing Community Youth Corps staff, reducing landscape maintenance while asking other organizations to assume those duties and reducing skier hours at Howelsen Hill while continuing to meet the needs of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

“I was surprised we were able to find our balance without larger service cuts,” Finance Director Deb Hinsvark said. “Those service cuts here are what we will essentially have.”

Hinsvark declined to provide additional details about the proposed cuts until Tuesday because city staff had not yet presented them to council members.

The City Council will review the proposed budget Tuesday, Hinsvark said. She said the council will consider a first reading Oct. 18 and a second reading Nov. 8, after the new City Council is elected.

The $700,000 in cuts represent less than the 5 percent reduction in budgeted sales tax revenues that City Council members expressed support for during Hinsvark’s midyear financial report Sept. 6. She projects the city to generate $16.1 million in sales taxes, making up nearly 68 percent of the city’s $24 million budget.

This year’s budget included a 10 percent across-the-board cut. That won’t be the case for the 2012 budget.

When Steamboat began the budget process in May, city department heads were asked to identify what they provided and how much it cost, Hinsvark said. She said that’s how the city identified areas where it could cut.

Hinsvark said the cuts are important because costs are increasing. She specifically mentioned property-casualty insurance, fuel and workers compensation costs.

The city also is bringing back an emergency contingency for issues related to unpredictable weather, as the city experienced this year, and incentives for economic development.

The city is delaying significant capital improvement projects to cut costs, Hinsvark said.

She said the city would maintain its existing facilities, with the exception of a nearly $1 million shift from the general fund next year to the city’s airport fund to move the fixed-base operator at Steamboat Springs Airport and for improvements to the existing terminal facility as part of the lease with SmartWool, which will pay back the airport fund with interest.

Hinsvark said City Council last year adopted a policy to reduce deferred maintenance in 15 years. She said most of that will start after 2012 by transferring dollars from the general fund to the capital improvement projects fund, which isn’t being funded by development-related use and excises taxes.

“It’s the years after (2012) that we’ll be transferring — from the low, about $600,000, and the high, about $1.6 million — in the next four years,” Hinsvark said. “It’s the basics. Our CIP fund is down to maintenance, the basics, and not doing new projects.”

Also in 2013, the city will start paying down debt on the Iron Horse Inn with a more than $433,000 payment. The city issued nearly $5.3 million of certificates of participation in 2007 to buy the Iron Horse. The payments will increase to about $480,000 in 2014 until the debt is retired in 2032.

Starting to pay off the Iron Horse and transferring general funds to pay for capital improvements are the reasons City Council President Cari Hermacinski has said 2013 will be the most difficult budget year she’s been on council.

Roberts sees 2012 as a new approach to the way Steamboat budgets. He called it the city’s “new reality” as it expects the tough economic times to continue.

“Rather than just responding to the national recession, which is what I think we’ve done the last couple of years, we’re positioning ourselves as a leader in the national recovery,” he said.

General fund breakdown

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