Council still wary with budget projections
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – City worker furlough days may be added into next year’s budget as a measure to keep spending in check, but avoid having to make layoffs if revenues continue to decline.
For the most part, though, the Glenwood Springs City Council is OK with the proposed 2011 budget submitted by City Manager Jeff Hecksel, which projects a slight increase in sales taxes compared to the past two years.
Council continued its discussion of the 2011 budget, both in a work session and as part of a public hearing on the proposed budget during Thursday night’s regular council session.
The budget is slated for formal adoption on Nov. 4, followed by an appropriations hearing Nov. 18 and a second and final reading at the first City Council meeting in December.
The new budget reflects an 18 percent decrease in spending compared to this year. Expenditures from all city funds combined are budgeted at $66.7 million, compared to $81.4 million this year, according to Hecksel.
Much of that decrease has to do with a ramping down of spending on capital construction projects, Hecksel said.
While the policy of the past two years has been to continue several projects through to completion because of favorable pricing and an effort to try to keep people working, it’s time to pull back so that the city can rebuild its fund balances, he said.
Spending decreases have also, so far, been accomplished without any staff layoffs, although some hours were cut and vacant positions left open for periods of time before they were rehired, Hecksel said.
“The economic environment is changing, and we are tracking the trends very closely,” he said during the council work session. “There may be a point when tough choices may need to be made.”
That could include not only reducing services, but reducing staff. For now, though, he doesn’t believe that will be necessary.
The proposed 2011 Glenwood city budget is based on a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenues over 2009 levels. This year, sales taxes, which make up about 50 percent of the city’s general fund revenues, have been running about 5.5 percent below 2009.
Hecksel said he stands behind the projections, but with the caveat that mid-year adjustments may needed if those projections aren’t borne out.
Some council members were still uncomfortable with the projections. But, short of budgeting for staff reductions, council asked that some furlough days be put in the budget as a safeguard.
During the budget hearing, several regular Glenwood Community Center users approached council asking that recreation programs and hours not take a huge hit if cuts are necessary.
Mayor Bruce Christensen said recreation center is no higher or lower on the list than any other programs or services if cuts become necessary. “But if revenues continue to fall, we may have to look at that, along with everything else,” he said.
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