Steamboat Springs City Council approves budget; most workers returned to 40-hour work weeks
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council last week gave final approval to a $73.8 million budget for 2017 that will return most city employees to 40 hours a week and add more personnel to meet new demands.
While the council initially ordered the city to cut 1.7 of the full-time equivalents originally proposed in the budget, the council decided it couldn’t stomach that big of a cut and let the city add back in a part-time firefighter position.
The council also appeared to reverse its previous position of completely handing over a taxpayer-funded ski pass perk to city staff.
On the staffing front, the city will still go without a proposed engineering technician, cut back a new paratransit bus driver’s hours and discontinue 228 hours of spring hand sweeping of the sidewalks on Lincoln Avenue and in Ski Time Square.
And after originally proposing that only city employees would continue to share the city’s ski medallions starting in 2017, the council clarified last week that they still want access to the passes. They just won’t have priority over city staff with the taxpayer-funded passes like they used to.
“We get last dibs,” Councilwoman Robin Crossan said.
At a budget hearing in October, the council appeared to have totally relinquished the ski pass perk and given it only to city staff members.
Councilman Jason Lacy proposed cutting the number of ski medallions from six to four, shifting the funding out of the city council’s budget and using the passes as a benefit for only city employees.
“I don’t think it’s something we need,” Lacy said at the time.
But when Council President Walter Magill noted that the budget proposal didn’t include council members on the ski passes, City Manager Gary Suiter said he thought the council still wanted in.
Several council members nodded in agreement that they did indeed still want to be included in the ski pass pool but without the ability to bump city employees.
After these changes and clarifications were made, the council voted unanimously to approve the spending plan.
But the approval didn’t come before council held a lengthy debate over staffing levels at the city.
Councilwoman Heather Sloop questioned whether the council was hurting the city by holding back proposed staffing gains if the cuts resulted in more costly overtime pay.
Lacy was also critical of the council’s decision earlier this month to tell staff to cut a certain number of positions without giving them any direction on which jobs shouldn’t be in the budget.
“We didn’t say what our real issue was,” Lacy said.
Councilman Tony Connell, who supported nixing some of the proposed staffing increases, said the city needs to find process improvements and efficiencies.
He added when labor costs outpace the growth of revenue, the council needs to show discipline.
“We have to look (at the budget) and not bake that growth into the next year’s budget and the next year’s budget,” he said of staffing increases.
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