Steamboat Springs City Council cuts city’s 2016 staffing proposal
Worried about rising payroll costs, the Steamboat Springs City Council won’t let the city increase its workforce by nearly 10 full-time equivalents next year.
The council’s decision to limit the city’s workforce growth to six FTEs is likely to nix a park ranger program, a new public works office coordinator, a part-time firefighting position and more seasonal hours for parks workers and front desk staff.
City staff will still be able to bring on a new city attorney, human resources manager and several seasonal bus drivers who are needed to restore winter routes.
The staffing picture will become more clear during the first reading of the budget.
On Tuesday, the council mostly cruised through the city’s $56 million budget proposal at Citizens Hall.
But staffing levels and personnel costs emerged as the biggest issue for the council.
“This is the largest increase in our budget, right here,” Council President Bart Kounovsky said of overall personnel costs. “As we all know, once these changes are made in the budget, they are buried forever. We tend not to let people go. We tend not to reduce. All we do is we continue to add … If you add five employees for 10 years, that’s a 50-employee increase.”
The council voted, 5-2, to cut the city’s proposed staffing expansion from 9.92 FTEs to six.
Council members Scott Ford and Sonja Macys voted against cutting the staffing proposal.
Macys said Wednesday the positions staff proposed adding aimed to help the council accomplish its goals.
She also said she felt the majority of the council’s decision to allow six FTEs, but not the full 10, was “arbitrary.”
The city’s workforce remains much smaller than it was before the start of the Great Recession.
In 2008, the city had 307 FTEs.
The 2016 budget proposal included 271 FTEs, a difference of 74,880 working hours.
The city’s parks and community services department has seen the deepest cuts in manpower.
That department has gone from 64 FTEs in 2008 to just fewer than 49 in the 2016 budget proposal.
Kounovsky said he felt that city councils have, since 2008, done a good job of ensuring staffing increases do not automatically happen.
“I think 2008 showed us that we needed to adjust what was going on at the city, and we made that adjustment successfully,” he said. “I can tell you I do not receive large scale complaints about the service level at the city, and I feel our employees are doing a wonderful job.”
The 2016 budget still includes $750,000 in salary and benefit increases that will benefit about 75 percent of city employees.
Before City Council reduced the staffing plan, the budget proposal would have increased the city’s overall personnel costs by about $1.63 million, compared to what the city is projected to spend on its workforce this year.
The amount the city spends on personnel as a proportion of its revenue remains lower than the 15-year average of 52 percent.
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