Steamboat council to consider $116M spending plan during budget retreat Tuesday
After a year of cutting back services based on low sales tax projections due to COVID-19, the city of Steamboat Springs is hoping to use its 2022 budget to return to pre-pandemic levels of service.
Steamboat Springs City Council will hold a work session Tuesday to discuss the budget that city staff has proposed. Council members will not take an official vote but will spend the entire day — from 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. — hearing from city staff and community groups asking for funding. Council members will then discuss each proposal and decide whether to increase or decrease the ask.
The overall budget, totaling $116,064,497, is split between city departments, with $53,776,015 in the general fund, $33,471,483 for capital projects, $4,883,980 for wastewater, $6,839,984 for water, $4,505,258 for fire and emergency property tax fund, $2,963,833 for fleet services, $6,744,211 for the airport, $2,264,665 for the golf course, $50,000 for community housing and $565,068 in the accommodations tax fund.
Kim Weber, the city’s finance director, is projecting $110,894,453 in revenue for the city in 2022. That number, Weber said, is a conservative estimate based on previous years. The projected revenue comes from taxes and assessments, charges for service, intergovernmental revenue, transfers from other funds, debt proceeds, gain/loss on sale of assets, tap fees, contributions, rental income, other revenue, investment income, files and forfeits and licenses and permits. The bulk of city revenue — $44,178,682 — comes from taxes and assessments.
The city is also proposing to place $735,548 in reserves. While that number is higher than it is most years, Weber said council can decide Tuesday if they would like to fund a project or position that is not currently proposed with that money.
Weber, City Manager Gary Suiter and Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson meet with directors from each of the city’s departments in August to discuss the needs of each department, and those requests are used to draft a budget, which is presented to City Council.
“In some areas, there might be some expansion, but we’re trying to return to the 2019 service levels, taking into consideration the challenges we’re going to have that other people are also facing with hiring and lack of supply,” Weber said.
While city department heads recognize they may face difficulty filling new positions, the Parks and Recreation Department is requesting three more staff members for its trails and open space department — one year-round open space technician to maintain the city’s trails and two open space and maintenance staffers to work on trails in the summer and Howelsen Hill in the winter.
“The focus has always been on building and maintaining trails, but I think the focus now is more on what land should we have in the system and what’s out there that needs to be protected — just taking a more holistic approach of maintaining and adding to the open space system,” said Brad Setter, Howelsen ski and rodeo manager.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue also is requesting three more lieutenants, two more firefighters and two part-time wildland firefighters.
“We really would like to be out in the community much more educating on the dangers of wildfire but also how individuals can help themselves and their properties become more resilient,” said Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli. “There’s a lot of work that can be done to continue mitigation work.”
Staff also ranked each of the city’s 63 capital improvement projects and determined which can be funded with current staff capacities and which cannot be funded due to lack of staffing.
Staff has suggested the grit dump, which will process and help the city dispose of waste collected from the street cleaning system to help protect waterways and air quality, as its first funding priority at $950,000 in addition to the $928,000 already budgeted for this project. Other prioritized projects include: repairing the Soda Creek bridges, $800,000; Yampa River Forest Restoration Project, $435,000; Steamboat Springs Transit bus refurbishment at $160,000; and central fire station construction at $16,226,978.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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