Steamboat Springs Among the changes in store for the proposed Steamboat Springs 2012 city budget: cost-of-living bonuses for all employees, an allocation to the volunteer firefighter pension fund, more money for marketing Steamboat’s summer attractions and a slight boost in community-support funding.
Steamboat Springs City Council members unanimously supported the proposed 2012 budget with general fund expenditures of $24.6 million, about $2 million more than this year.
The budget includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living bonus for city staff members. The salary and benefit bonus will cost the city $252,123 next year.
There was some discussion during Tuesday’s all-day budget hearing about delaying the bonuses until the city’s financial picture is clearer by midyear, as the city did this year when it provided a one-time bonus to staff.
That idea quickly was dismissed Tuesday.
“I’m saying that if we approve this budget, our employees are going to be guaranteed the cost-of-living increase bonus, that it’s not going to be dependent on departments, no matter what,” City Council member Kenny Reisman said. I’m putting the burden on us, the city manager, the deputy city manager.”
Finance Director Deb Hinsvark, who will replace Wendy DuBord on Oct. 9 as deputy city manager but retain her duties as finance director, said staff also was given a small one-time bonus in 2010. She said a majority of staff salaries were cut 10 percent in 2009.
City Council member Jon Quinn supported the guaranteed cost-of-living bonus for 2012.
“We have an excellent city staff, and it’s important for us to support our city manager and deputy city manager to keep our people motivated to do the great job that they are doing,” he said. “Let’s not forget that the pay plan decrease of two years ago was not merit based. It was entirely arbitrary, 10 percent across the board, pretty much. So a 1.5 percent as a cost-of-living bonus is the least we can do.”
Other notable expenditures proposed for next year:
■ A $212,000 payment to the volunteer firefighter pension fund. The fund provides $650 a month to 20 retired volunteer firefighters and four beneficiaries of retired volunteer firefighters. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue is a mostly professional department with few volunteers left.
Hinsvark said the payment would put a dent in the pension’s unfunded liability, which was revealed through a regular actuarial study, which is conducted every year. She said the payment would allow the city to meet its future obligations.
The City Council recently approved closing the fund in favor of finding a new one that is a better fit for the city’s volunteer firefighters.
■ The City Council used some savings that weren’t included in the budget from a recent reorganization of Steamboat Springs Police Department staffing to restore funding for the Human Resources, Arts & Culture and Environmental Coalitions to the existing level of nearly $330,000. The coalitions serve about 50 local organizations.
■ Community-support funding will increase to about $1.5 million next year, up from about $1.4 million this year. Some of those individual allocations will include $5,000 for Yampa Valley Data Partners, $40,000 for Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, $54,000 for Bike Town USA, $9,500 for the Mountain Village Partnership, $25,000 for Yampa Valley Regional Airport, $500 for Routt County Riders, $8,400 for Civil Air Patrol, $24,000 for fireworks and $18,000 for the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
■ The community-support funding also includes $700,000 for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association — $600,000 for summer marketing and $100,000 for special events. The city allocated an estimated $525,000 on summer marketing efforts this year. New Chamber Chief Executive Officer Tom Kern said his organization is working to form a committee that would evaluate a sustainable funding source for summer marketing and hopes to present ideas by next summer.
The City Council will consider a first reading of the 2012 budget this month and a second reading Nov. 8, after the election.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com