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Council hears second budget presentation

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City Council went through its second of four budget work sessions Thursday afternoon.

The one-hour session covered the Cemetery Trust, Conservation Trust, Fire Department, Fire Equipment Replacement Fund, and Acquisitions and Improvements. 

The budgets generated relatively brief discussion, though the A&I budget discussion was cut off after five extra minutes to start the work session on affordable housing on city-owned land. The A&I budget includes mostly larger infrastructure projects and the acquisition of land, right of ways and the like, said city of Glenwood Springs COO Steve Boyd.

Early in the budget work session Mayor Jonathan Godes asked for a straw vote to see if any councilors had issues with the Cemetery or Conservation trust budgets. 

“I want to do a quick thumbs up for information to see if everybody feels good about these two funds, good enough that if nothing else changes in the next couple of months we would all feel good voting for these,” he said.

The idea was met with little enthusiasm form Councilor Tony Hershey.

“I will vote on the final budget, Mr. Mayor,” he said.

Acquisitions and Improvements

The A&I projected revenue totaled $13.7 million. The sales tax portion is $4.6 million, down from $5.1 million in 2020, reflecting the expected 10% decline in revenues, Boyd said. Use tax would contribute another $200,000.

“$4.8 million isn’t great when you compare it to last year’s $5.25 million, but what are you going to do?” Boyd said.

Grants would bring in $8.7 million, including a LoVa grant of more than $1 million for trail construction along the Colorado River west of Glenwood, a $1.8 million South Bridge earmark reimbursement and a $5.8 million build grant that Boyd said would be spent as South Midland gets rebuilt. 

Expenses were higher, at $18.5 million. This where the large projects are, including $9.8 million for South Midland reconstruction; $2.3 million for South Bridge design and outreach; $1.2 million for the LoVa Trail extension, of which Boyd said all but $160,000 would be reimbursed to the city; and $500,000 for a 27th Street over- or underpass.

Other big ticket items are $2 million in bond payments; $1.4 million of interfund  transfers; and $500,000 for the contingency fund, which Boyd said gives staff room to maneuver when project expenses are higher than expected.

Fire and EMS

The fire and EMS projected budget totaled $4.2 million. Boyd explained that the budget will never carry a balance, so the contribution from the general fund on the revenue side, $2.7 million, is adjusted to match the expenses.

Ambulance fees are projected to contribute $500,000 to the fire and EMS budget. Boyd explained that equates to $800,000 earned with $250,000 subtracted for insurance adjustments.

There is also a $250,000 expense for bad debts, prompting Councilor Paula Stepp to ask if that figure had been counted twice. 

When Boyd explained that the two expenses are separate, Stepp asked, “So we could see as much as — between the two of them — $500,000 lost in our ambulance service?”

“It’s possible. That’s a big problem. It’s something we’ve wrestled with the whole time I’ve been here,” Boyd said.

Councilor Rick Voorhess asked if the $138,000 budgeted for overtime was optimistic in light of the current fire situation.

“We didn’t find that there was any specific reason to make a big change to that number, so hopefully we’ll come in about that,” Boyd said.

Boyd said that, as with other budgets, there are no staffing cuts but also no cost of living increase for employees. The fire and EMS budget has $2 million for regular employees.

Emergency Services and Equipment

The Emergency Services and Equipment budget is projected to bring in $885,000 from fire impact fees and transfers from other funds. 

Expenses are projected to be $326,000, but Boyd said a grant in progress could lower expenses by $180,000. City manager Debra Figueroa said that the grant is as good as complete, and Boyd said that section of expenses will be reworked accordingly.

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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