Steamboat Springs City Council to start 2014 budget talks Tuesday |

Steamboat Springs City Council to start 2014 budget talks Tuesday

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night will discuss the city’s preliminary 2014 budget that would return some city employees to a 40-hour workweek and give several employees market-rate pay raises for the first time in years.

According to a memo from city staff to the council, the city wants its parks staff, rodeo staff and Howelsen Hill staff to return to a 40-hour workweek along with some other positions.

"The majority of Recreation, City Hall Staff, and other administrative staff will continue to work at 36 hours per week where feasible," the memo reads.

The budget also is expected to include raises for city employees that are the result of an extensive study comparing city employees’ salaries and benefits to other communities.

Following a budget season last year that saw a comprehensive employee pay raise plan canceled after it was determined it may not be sustainable in the long run, employee compensation again is poised to be the big topic in the city’s upcoming budget forums.

At a senior citizens’ luncheon in June, City Manager Deb Hinsvark said the city would work to return some employees, who have sustained furloughs and 36-hour workweeks in recent years, back to 40 hours.

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She added that market raises for employees also remain a high priority.

"We hope we can support both in 2014," Hinsvark said at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. "In the last four years, we haven't been able to give any market-rate raises to our employees. We've done seven layoffs and canceled 30 positions that were vacant. We have not re-hired. And I doubt that we will re-hire. The higher priority is getting market adjustments for people who were working the last four years."

While a broader pay raise plan was voted down by the City Council last year, the city was able to secure $176,437 in raises for its full-time paramedics and firefighters.

Another topic of the upcoming budget workshop will be the rising cost of health insurance.

Anticipating the increases, the city plans to mitigate the costs by switching to a new claims manager next year and asking employees for the first time to pay a portion of their insurance plan, according to a memo from Finance Director Kim Weber.

Deductibles also will be increased.

Weber said the city’s current expenditures in the draft budget are about $350,000 higher than the anticipated 2014 revenue.

At this time last year, the expenditures were about $942,000 higher.

"Staff will be working throughout the month of September to bring you a balanced budget on Oct. 1 for the budget hearing," she said.

Other agenda highlights:

• The council will weigh a second and final reading of the rules the city will use to regulate recreational marijuana use here. Notable rules include the zoning of pot shops out of the commercial districts downtown and at the base area, the prohibition of recreational pot clubs and a proposed annual operating fee of $9,165 on retail marijuana establishments to recoup the city’s expenses in regulating them.

• Sam Jones, of the Routt County Energy Working Group, will ask the council to consider starting a Steamboat Springs Energy Productivity Fund. The group said the fund could be launched with surplus revenues from Yampa Valley Electric Association capital credits totaling a little more than $6,000 in 2013. The fund could be used on "community-wide residential and commercial projects" that focus on reducing energy costs.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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