Steamboat City Council gets early look at 2016 budget projections | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat City Council gets early look at 2016 budget projections

Steamboat Springs Parks and Community Services employee Jacob Girty rakes Simillion field in the spring. The city is currently working to put together a budget that would increase government expenditures by about $1.6 million next year.

— Expecting city revenues will continue to rise next year, the city of Steamboat Springs is working on a 2016 budget proposal that could increase government expenditures by about $1.6 million.

Under financial policies adopted by the Steamboat Springs City Council, city staff aims to create a budget that spends 95 percent of projected sales tax revenue annually while saving the other five percent for reserves.

In recent years, this policy, combined with conservative sales tax projections, has generated millions of dollars worth of reserves.

Finance Director Kim Weber currently is projecting the city will collect 4 percent more in sales tax next year than this year.

Other revenues are also expected to continue to rise.

Council members made it clear Tuesday night city staff will need to justify extra budget items in 2016 before it signs off on any additional spending in the fall.

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“I will need a good explanation of why city services need to grow by $1.6 million when we see this again,” Council President Bart Kounovsky said.

Weber’s preliminary sales tax projection was guided by a study of global, national and local economic trends.

Through May, the city has collected 6.14 percent more in sales tax revenue than it did during the same period in 2014.

The city crafted a 2015 budget that anticipated a 4 percent growth in sales tax.

Although the council won’t see a proposed budget until fall, it has already made a couple of significant budget decisions.

Last month, the council approved a new pay plan for city employees that will cost about $750,000 to implement.

Under the plan, about 6 percent of the city’s 206 employees are expected to see their salaries increase next year to a market wage that was determined by a comprehensive salary survey.

The council also accepted a proposal to ensure Steamboat Springs Transit receives about 14 percent of the city’s general fund for budget-planning purposes.

City staff told the council the budget allocation would allow SST to restore winter bus service.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10