City budget approval delayed |

City budget approval delayed

Avi Salzman

— A vote on the 2002 city budget will have to wait until December, pushing the City Council to the brink of the new year without any assurance that the budget will be passed in time.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to reconsider the budget initially rejected on Nov. 6 at its meeting next week.

But city staff said Wednesday that could not happen because there is not enough time to advertise the final reading of the budget.

The budget must be published in the Sunday Steamboat Pilot & Today at least four days before the meeting, said Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord.

If the budget is not passed by the end of the year, the city will start 2002 with the same budget allocations it used in 2001. That could temporarily sidetrack the city’s attempt to cut costs in anticipation of a slowdown in sales-tax revenues.

It could also jeopardize funding for a new force of highly trained EMS professionals/firefighters for Steamboat and the surrounding rural fire protection district, among other things.

City officials did not express concern that the 2002 budget was in jeopardy of being put on hold if it isn’t passed next month. Because the council could meet for a special session after the three regularly scheduled meetings next month, the budget is likely to be passed in time, DuBord said.

The proposed budget is filled with cuts, but it will be reviewed in April 2002 to see how the city’s revenues are doing. The current budget projects a 10-percent or more drop in sales-tax revenues stemming from an anticipated decline in tourism. Until the April review, the city will likely defer many capital projects.

Projects likely to be dropped or deferred until spring include the repair of the leaky City Hall roof and interior renovations, a 10th Street parking extension, improvements to the tow house on Howelsen Hill and Yampa River improvements, among others. Capital cuts and deferrals, in addition to a hiring freeze on new city employees, would save the city about $1.4 million from a $21 million budget that had already been slashed heavily by city staff.

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