Rifle City Council mulls possible funds transfer from parks and recreation department
Rifle City Council spent Nov. 4’s budget hearing considering whether they should transfer $1 million from the parks and recreation department to the general fund.
Councilor Ed Green, who initially proposed the idea, suggested some of those funds, which were originally set aside to defray anticipated costs related to 2019’s $8 million-plus municipal pool renovation project, will help bear the financial brunt if surges in COVID-19 continue.
“I don’t think we’re out of the COVID environment, and I think that we need as much fund balance in the general fund as possible,” he said. “Right now, we’re at about 80%. We’re going to lose under this projected budget $1 million.”
Green said the transfer will help reduce the percentage of fund balance expenses, while the parks and recreation balance will still be at 40% of their annual expenses.
“Where do you want the protection, for payroll or parks?” Green asked the council.
But, according to finance director Michelle Duran, the proposed transfer from parks and recreation to the general fund could pose a potential red flag. Because the parks and recreation department collects and use sales tax to pay back money already borrowed, it cannot be transferred to the general fund, she said.
“Now I know that’s not your intent,” Duran said. “But that’s how that transaction can be interpreted.”
Instead, if in fact the city opts to take $1 million from parks and recreation, the money can legally be transferred to capital improvements. In that fund, any salaries and wages related to capital improvement projects can be paid under financial impunity.
Total budgeted expenditures:
General fund: $9.45 million
Street Improvement: $6.11 million
Conservation Trust: $50,000
Visitor Improvement: $302,427
Downtown Development: $52,902
Tourism & Industry: $421,255
Urban Renewal: $325,000
Parks & Recreation: $3.06 million
Water: $5.64 million
Wastewater: $3.9 million
Cemetery, perpetual care: $25,000
Information Tech: $957,162
“It would at least get us closer to expenditures for payroll, basically,” Green said.
But, amid this financial contingency plan to help defray overhead costs, the projected budget for 2021 is in relatively good shape, according to budget documents prepared by Duran.
“The proposed 2021 budget should allow the City of Rifle to maintain our current high level of productivity,” the documents read. “Capital project expenditure is significant due to expenditure for Streets.”
During Nov. 4’s budget hearing, Duran attributed residents shopping locally to an estimated 3.2% increase in sales tax revenue.
“So far, I feel like we’ve been very fortunate that our citizens shop local,” Duran said. “They continue to feed us those sales taxes and that helps run everything that we have going on here. And we can think positive and say we could be up again next year.”
Even amid more than $100,000 drop in oil and gas revenues, according to budget documents, primary revenues will remain relatively the same as 2020.
Sales and use taxes attached to the oil and gas industry in Rifle so far totals around $96,167, according to year-to-year comparisons. December 2019 ended at nearly $200,355.
After addressing some of the numbers with Duran prior to the meeting, councilor Brian Condie praised the upcoming budget.
“Our general fund revenues are estimated to go down by 5%, general fund expenditures are only estimated to go up by 2%,” he said. “But, the overall budget is a reduction of 8.3%, so we’ve done really well cutting our estimated budget for 2021.”
“I really appreciated the city staff for doing that,” he added.
Projected budget expenditures for 2021 totaling nearly $30.33 million. For major accounts, the 2021 general fund will see $9.45 million; street improvements, $6.11 million; and $3.06 million for parks and recreation.
The 2020 budget adopted by the city in 2019 shows roughly $33.28 million in total expenditures, with general fund at $9.27 million; street improvements, $6.12 million; and $7.19 million for parks and recreation.
The budget will be presented for adoption at the November 18 city council meeting, according to city documents. Immediately thereafter, city council will vote on an appropriations ordinance.
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