Steamboat Springs City Council to discuss 2012 budget Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council to discuss 2012 budget Tuesday

Jack Weinstein

— Steamboat Springs Finance Director Deb Hinsvark has put together a 2012 budget that will continue positioning the city for the future.

Hinsvark will present the budget to Steamboat Springs City Council members during a daylong hearing Tuesday. City Council members asked her to prepare a general fund budget with a 5 percent decline in sales tax revenue from this year. A majority of council members supported reductions in services to make up for a reduction in revenue instead of dipping into reserves.

Hinsvark said last week that she supported those suggestions because of her economic outlook.

"We've balanced this budget with minimal cuts, but we're looking at a continuation (of decreased revenues) for the next five years," she said. "The economy isn't pushing us forward and could fall backward."

Presentations from groups requesting funding from the city will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Citizens Hall at Centennial Hall. Current city funds also will be discussed during that time. A public comment period is scheduled from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Hinsvark, who will replace Wendy DuBord as the city's deputy city manager Oct. 9 in addition to retaining her duties as finance director, said the 2012 budget accounted for projected sales tax revenues to decrease about $858,000 from this year's estimated collections of about $17 million.

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Sales tax revenues have declined from a peak of $19.6 million in 2008 to $16.8 million in 2009 and nearly $16.7 million in 2010.

City Manager Jon Roberts said the city has reduced its expenses 40 percent since 2008. Cuts included the city's move to a four-day work week, a 10 percent reduction to managerial salaries and eliminating vacant positions while maintaining existing service levels.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski said that although it's another year of cuts, she doesn't anticipate it to be as difficult as past years.

"In 2009, we cut fairly aggressively — 28 percent — which was a big, big cut," she said. "My fear is oftentimes we have the tendency to only look one year in the future. There might be a temptation to say, 'Let's use reserves.' I think 2013 is going to be a tougher budget year than every year I've been on the council, which is every year we've been in the recession and now, technically, out of it."

Hinsvark said the 2012 budget could include changes to bus routes and activities provided by the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department. She said other budget measures could include privatization or elimination of some services, restructuring, reworking existing contracts, leasing instead of purchasing capital equipment and pursuing new revenue sources.

Hinsvark wouldn't provide any more specifics because the budget had not been presented to City Council members.

The budget didn't include the use of reserves to make up for lost revenue. According to the 2011 budget, reserves totaled nearly $14 million in 2010. Of that total, Hinsvark said $6.3 million was unrestricted and unallocated, essentially the city's "cushion."

During Hinsvark's midyear budget update Sept. 6, City Council member Kenny Reisman suggested the city pursue other possible revenue sources instead of cutting and using reserves. He said last week that revenue sources could include looking at some user fees and the cost for ambulance services, which are lower than in many other communities.

"We talk so much about cut, cut, cut," Reisman said. "I just want to make sure there weren't other opportunities to bring in other revenue opportunities for the city that need to be explored."

Hinsvark said 2013 would be a difficult budget year because the city will start paying the Iron Horse Inn debt. But she said the measures the council plans to take next year would help position the city for what Hinsvark thinks could be a tough future.

"I don't anticipate any real changes in our revenue sources and our expenditures, actually," she said. "We're trying to hold the line as much as possible until we can come up with something more strategic instead of just balancing the budget."

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

Budget hearing 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

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