City of Steamboat makes cuts to capital projects budget
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Looking to another phase of budget cuts, Kim Weber, finance director for the city of Steamboat Springs, presented the Steamboat Springs City Council with a list of capital fund project delays, adjusted project scopes and project eliminations.
“All of these reductions were really tough,” Weber said. “All of these projects were very important — this was not taken lightly by staff.”
Largely reliant on the building use tax and building excise tax, the 2020 capital projects fund includes $3.5 million from those two taxes. In 2019, those taxes generated $3.8 million in revenue.
Citing an inevitable COVID-19 reduction in building and development, Weber projected a revenue drop of about $1.5 million, with a 2020 collection of about $2 million in revenue from the building taxes.
The plan Weber presented to council reduced the city’s spending on capital projects by about $2.1 million, putting about $4.25 million in projects on hold and allowing for 36 budgeted projects to move forward at a cost of about $7.9 million.
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That would reduce the city’s total capital project fund from about $19 million to $17 million, according to Weber.
Council members debated the benefit of keeping local people working through the pandemic, the potential for construction and borrowing costs to either rise or fall, and the public perception of continuing with some projects with so many people out of work, and city employees seeing a 10% cut to their hours or salaries.
Council also talked about ensuring the city doesn’t lose matching grant money, and lessons learned from halting projects following the 2008 recession.
Looking back, Weber said deferred maintenance should not have been canceled during the recession. At this time, significant cuts to the facilities budget are not being proposed.
She said her concern is with the big projects and becoming contractually obligated without having the funds to cover the project, especially given the uncertainty of just how long the pandemic will impact the economy.
Council did agree to move forward with the design phase of a new fire station, for which $100,000 was budgeted.
Delayed projects include the planned implementation of new Enterprise Software, Howelsen Rodeo Grounds parking lot paving and Yampa River Core Trial pedestrian lighting.
Of the $500,000 storm water improvement project, city staff recommended delaying $150,000 of the proposed work.
Projects that were identified for a reduced scope — totaling a reduction of about $1.8 million — include Yampa River restoration, Howelsen Ice Arena locker rooms and recreational programs, general paving, U.S. Highway 40 medians, Howelsen Hill landslide stabilization, Soda Creek Bridge work on 11th and Oak streets and the Fish Creek underpass.
Projects, totaling $272,210, recommended for elimination in 2020 include police vehicle radio replacement, Spring Creek Trail improvements and ball field improvements. Those projects will be “reranked” during the 2021 budget process.
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