Glenwood budget lean, but not mean
Glenwood Springs spending allocations for the 2003 fiscal year will revert back to 2001 levels because of declining sales tax revenues and an uncertain future. Despite this, there will be no city service or job cuts, nor will there be any new taxes, city manager Mike Copp wrote in a budget message to the Glenwood Springs City Council. These issues and others will be discussed Thursday at City Council’s regular meeting. It is the second of four planned public hearings on the 2003 budget.Council is expected to approve the final budget on Oct. 3, but if there are delays, the council can schedule another meeting to get it approved by the Oct. 15 deadline. “Although other mountain communities are looking at increases in property taxes to offset declining revenues, we are keeping our mill levy at historic levels,” Copp wrote. Some consequences of the faltering economy include putting off some major construction projects and raises for top-level city employees. Through July this year, sales tax revenues are down 2.6 percent from 2001 levels. The city was hit particularly hard in June, when sales tax revenues dropped 9.7 percent from June 2001 and accommodations taxes were down by 13.8 percent for the same period. City officials blame the Coal Seam Fire for the dramatic plunge. July 2002 sales taxes were down by 4.6 percent compared to July 2001, and accommodations taxes were down by 5.8 percent for the same period.”Because of City Council’s vision in keeping the electric system and regaining management of the landfill, we are able to maintain essential city services without raising taxes,” Copp’s message said.One new computer-related job will be created, but a hiring freeze is in effect for all other departments. The new position is expected to save money for the city in the long run, Copp wrote. The total budget for 2003 is $34.3 million so far, which comes in about $2.77 million more than the expected revenue for the year. But by using excess revenues from enterprise funds – which include the electric department and landfill – the general fund will be balanced, Copp wrote. Copp warned, however, if sales tax revenue decreases continue, future budget cuts and decreases in essential services could become necessary. “We need to keep a vigilant eye on sales taxes in 2003,” he wrote. “We need to have an economic plan that will lessen future impacts on our community. As council and staff prepare to face the future, we need to develop a strategy that will ensure a viable and stable Glenwood Springs,” he wrote. Also on the agenda for the Thursday meeting:-A work session to discuss the future direction of the city’s Downtown Development Authority. It begins at 5 p.m. Thursday in City Council Chambers. -An update on the status of the city’s fiber optics project and the status of the drought plan. -Consideration of a request to extend the fund-raising deadline for the Community Center swimming pool. The fund-raising group’s original target date was Sept. 1.-Award of a bid to build a ballfield next to Sopris Elementary School. -A continued public hearing for council to consider a Planning and Zoning recommendation to deny a request for annexation, zoning, design variances and a major development permit for a warehouse and offices at 2550 Highway 82. Also, council will consider a P&Z recommendation to approve the condominiumization of an existing mixed-use commercial and residential building at 2520 South Grand Ave. The applicant on both of those requests was David Hicks of Prince Creek Construction. -Consideration to grant a license to encroach for a porte-cochere, directional sign and a monument sign at the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool. -A conceptual review of a request for a major development permit for a new WestStar Bank and office building with a drive-thru at 1901 Grand Ave. near Safeway. Earlier this summer, several neighbors appealed the city’s decision to allow the bank, and bank officials withdrew the application. According to a City Council Action Report, the new conceptual plan is almost identical to the old plan. No action is required by City Council during the conceptual review.The council meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at the new City Hall, 101 W. 8th St.
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