Steamboat Springs With no citywide service cuts on the table, Steamboat Springs' big budget workshop on Tuesday shouldn't be as contentious as it was last year when dozens of people packed Centennial Hall to oppose some proposed cuts to free bus service.
Instead, the Steamboat City Council is expected for the first time in recent years to spend a lot of time talking about some significant budget enhancements.
They include boosting by 10 percent the amount of community support dollars the city gives to local non-profit groups, bringing 40 of the city's employees back to a 40-hour work week and getting the salaries of several employees up to a market rate.
The city has for several years now sustained furloughs and frozen salaries in response to the economic recession. But as sales tax revenue continues to grow steadily, city staff now is looking at ways it can improve its level of customer service and make employee salaries more competitive.
This year, after consulting with department heads, employees and their constituents, the city has determined it can better serve the community by restoring hours to some employees at the animal shelter and in the city's parks, Howelsen Hill, trails, open space, planning and police records departments.
City Hall would remain closed on Fridays.
The hour enhancements, which would cost about $160,000, would allow the Police Department and Planning Department to increase their office hours and stay open until noon on Fridays.
The 2014 budget also is slated to give some employee groups raises to bring their salaries up to a market rate that was determined by comparing employee compensation here in Steamboat to the pay in other cities comparable to Steamboat.
The survey included such cities as Breckenridge, Louisville and Durango and found several of the city's professional groups were underpaid compared to their counterparts in nearby communities.
Utility workers' pay here was determined to be the most off-market, followed closely by recreation employees.