City kicks off 2017 budget season banking on 3 percent gain in sales tax revenue
Steamboat Springs — Sales tax revenue in Steamboat Springs is projected to keep climbing in 2017, but finance director Kim Weber had some words of caution for the city’s elected officials ahead of the budget-planning season.
“Our spending power is the same or lower than it was in 2007, with more services,” Weber told the council on Tuesday.
Weber’s statement on the financial health of the city factored in the cost of inflation in the city’s sales tax totals in recent years.
While the city is collecting more dollars than it ever has before, inflation dampens the milestone and puts the current level of collections at or below 2007 levels.
Weber also said she felt the city’s capital projects fund, which pays for such things as new facilities and infrastructure projects such as the recent reconstruction of Central Park Drive, remains “severely underfunded.”
As city officials start to submit budget proposals, Weber is projecting the city will collect 3 percent more in sales tax revenue next year than it is projected to rake in this year.
The city will again put more than $1 million into its reserves if the projection holds.
Year to date, the city has collected just over 6 percent more in sales tax compared to last year.
The level of revenue increases are on par with what several other mountain resort communities are seeing.
Weber arrived at the projection for next year after looking at several indicators of the local, national and global economies.
Rising revenues in recent years have created a situation where the council is mostly debating additions to the budget, not proposed cuts.
The city also has had budget surpluses at the end of the year for the past seven to eight years, Weber said.
Weber and City Manager Gary Suiter gave the council a preview of the 2017 budget.
The proposal given to council is poised to include requests for additional personnel in such departments as parks and recreation, information technology and facilities.
Suiter also said there will be proposed spending to automate more city functions by using cloud-based solutions.
As an example, he said the city wants to upgrade its technology so that prospective city employees can apply for jobs through an online portal.
Another tech upgrade would allow residents to instantly submit photos and reports to city staff about things that need to be fixed, such as potholes or knocked-over street signs.
The City Council hunkers down in its chambers and discusses the city’s budget in the fall.
The council was agreeable to Weber’s projection of a 3 percent sales tax increase for budgeting purposes.
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