Steamboat Springs City Council to weigh in on $56 million budget proposal
If you go
The council's annual budget retreat kicks off at 8 a.m. Monday in Citizens Hall with a general overview of the budget.
The meeting continues throughout the morning and afternoon with presentations and discussion on all of the different funds.
Other budget highlights
• The council is poised to discuss a proposal to spend $750,000 next year to stabilize the earth around the ski jumps on Howelsen Hill. Some council members have appeared hesitant to move forward with the big spend. City staff will discuss the city's legal obligations to maintain the hill and its infrastructure.
• While bus service has been a big topic at prior budget hearings, the proposal is poised to be less controversial this year. The council has already endorsed a plan to allow Steamboat Springs Transit to continue using 14 percent of the city's general fund. The budget guarantee has allowed the bus service to plan to bring back the bus lines that were cut and reduced last winter.
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council will hunker down in Citizens Hall Tuesday to comb through a $56 million budget that would increase the salaries of most city employees and continue to add more workers to the city’s ranks.
Other budget highlights
• The council is poised to discuss a proposal to spend $750,000 next year to stabilize the earth around the ski jumps on Howelsen Hill. Some council members have appeared hesitant to move forward with the big spend. City staff will discuss the city’s legal obligations to maintain the hill and its infrastructure.
• While bus service has been a big topic at prior budget hearings, the proposal is poised to be less controversial this year. The council has already endorsed a plan to allow Steamboat Springs Transit to continue using 14 percent of the city’s general fund. The budget guarantee has allowed the bus service to plan to bring back the bus lines that were cut and reduced last winter.
The proposed 2016 budget also would create the city’s first park ranger program, restore winter bus service to a more user-friendly schedule, shore up the ski jumps on the city’s historic ski hill, kick off a major downtown improvement project and keep plans for a new police station moving forward.
With sales tax revenue continuing to climb, the council is poised to focus most of its discussion Tuesday on proposed additions, not subtractions, to the budget.
The 2016 budget includes about $5.5 million more in proposed expenditures compared to the budget council adopted last year. The majority of that increase comes in the capital projects fund.
Council President Bart Kounovsky said as he was reviewing the 281-page budget book over the weekend, it was the city’s proposal to increase its workforce by nearly 10 full-time equivalents that stood out the most.
“I’m going to have to get a really good understanding of why these increases are needed,” Kounovsky said Monday. “That’s the big thing on my mind.”
To meet new demands and provide better customer service, the city is also proposing to add new workers and positions to its ranks.
The additional city employees in next year’s budget proposal include a new human resources manager, a coordinator for the public works office, additional seasonal bus drivers and parks and recreation workers, a part-time firefighter and some seasonal hours for front desk staff at city hall.
The budget proposal also includes funding for a deputy city manager — a position the city has gone without in recent years.
The budget proposal would increase 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.
Much of that increase comes from a new pay plan for city employees that includes $750,000 in salary and benefit increases.
The council already has endorsed the pay plan that aims to increase workers salaries here so that they are more on par with the salaries of other government workers in the region.
The market wages were determined by an extensive salary survey.
About 165, or 75 percent, of the city’s employees will see raises next year.
The most recent satisfication survey of city employees showed that most city employees did not feel they were being paid fairly compared to others doing similar work at the city and other government organizations.
Many employees also indicated they did not have a good understanding of how their pay is determined.
In the last three years, council members have wrestled with the issue of employee pay.
Some council members who have withheld proposed raises for city employees have expressed concern about rising payroll costs, while other members have been quick to embrace the budget proposals that aim to raise the pay of city employees to a market rate.
The $20.1 million in personnel costs in the proposed 2016 budget account for about 51 percent of the city’s budgeted revenue.
Over the past 15 years, personnel costs have accounted for an average of 52 percent of the city’s revenue.
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