Seat belts in over-the-road buses survive city of Steamboat Springs’ 2017 budget cuts | SteamboatToday.com

Seat belts in over-the-road buses survive city of Steamboat Springs’ 2017 budget cuts

Seat belts on buses survive city of Steamboat's 2017 budget cuts







— Steamboat Springs City Council took out the pruning shears Oct. 4 and cut about $1.88 million in capital projects from its projected 2017 budget during an all-day budget retreat. However, one project that made the cut is a plan to add seat belts to a pair of over-the-road Steamboat Springs Transit buses that ferry commuters to and from Craig and Hayden.

"I don't want to spend the money," Councilman Jason Lacy said, "but (seat belts) are going to be required on new buses within in a month," anyway. And councilman Scott Ford concurred.

"I'm not thrilled with this, but I agree with Jason," Ford said. He also pointed out that the city would not be taking on the role of requiring passengers to use the new seat belts, which must be installed with new seats designed to accommodate the belts.

2017 budget highlights

• The $75.6 million city of Steamboat Springs’ 2017 budget, as presented by City Manager Gary Suiter and Finance Director Kim Weber, is projected to result in revenues exceeding expenditures by more than $200,000 by the end of next year.

• Sales tax receipts that fund the city are expected to increase by 3 percent over 2016 projected sales tax, allowing a transfer to the Capital Projects Fund of $1.12 million.

Recommended Stories For You

• As a result of extending office hours and an increasing workload, most city employees are proposed to return to 40 hours per week in 2017. The cost is estimated to be $75,000, including wages and taxes.

• Parks and Community Services has responded to a City Council request to increase the hours Howelsen Hill is open to the public with a plan to increase part-time staffing at an additional cost of about $41,000 in 2017.

• The full 2017 budget document may be found at the city's website in the form of the agenda packet for the Oct. 4 City Council meeting.

The $120,000 is a relatively modest amount in the context of the proposed overall 2017 city budget of $75.6 million, but it reflects the level of scrutiny city staff and council are undertaking.

Of the total budget, $24.2 million is attributable to the city's general fund. Final 2016 expenditures are projected to reach $68.6 million. One difference-maker in this year's budget is the $9.5 million for a new police station that wasn't in last year's budget.

Final adoption of the 2017 budget is scheduled for the Nov. 15 City Council meeting.

The seat belt issue

The city's sensitivity to seat belts on buses arose from a May 4 traffic accident during a thick snowstorm when the driver of an SUV slammed into the front of an SST bus bound for Craig, resulting in several injured passengers.

It's typical that over-the-road buses are not to be equipped with seat belts, but Public Works Director Chuck Anderson informed City Council Tuesday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will begin requiring seat belts on new, larger buses beginning Nov. 28.

Steamboat Transit Manager Jonathan Flint told the council that the Roaring Fork Transit Authority, which serves Aspen and communities further down valley, has opted to install seat belts at $50,000 to $60,000 per bus, but that RTD in metro Denver has opted not to retrofit its buses.

Flint said his staff will have time next spring to do the installation themselves, saving about $20,000.

Budget cuts

Among the capital budget casualties on Tuesday was a plan to spend $200,000 on engineering and design for two bridges spanning Soda Creek at 11th and Oak streets. Anderson said the bridges are on a state watch list, but councilwoman Heather Sloop, a former employee of Routt County's Road and Bridge Department, observed there are numerous bridges in the region with lower condition ratings.

"We can wait another year," she said.

City Council informally voted 4-3 to delay the project until 2018.

Also taken off the capital budget list were a plan to spend $75,000 to remove rock slide hazards on River Road and a plan to spend $810,000 on design work for an anticipated new central fire department. Both those projects were pushed to next year's budget.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

2017 budget highlights

• The $75.6 million city of Steamboat Springs’ 2017 budget, as presented by City Manager Gary Suiter and Finance Director Kim Weber, is projected to result in revenues exceeding expenditures by more than $200,000 by the end of next year.

• Sales tax receipts that fund the city are expected to increase by 3 percent over 2016 projected sales tax, allowing a transfer to the Capital Projects Fund of $1.12 million.

• As a result of extending office hours and an increasing workload, most city employees are proposed to return to 40 hours per week in 2017. The cost is estimated to be $75,000, including wages and taxes.

• Parks and Community Services has responded to a City Council request to increase the hours Howelsen Hill is open to the public with a plan to increase part-time staffing at an additional cost of about $41,000 in 2017.

• The full 2017 budget document may be found at the city’s website in the form of the agenda packet for the Oct. 4 City Council meeting.