2013 Budget Process Begins

The annual budget process is now getting started at the City. Department heads are beginning to review 2012 mid-year accomplishments and determining priorities to recommend for City Council approval in the upcoming 2013 budget cycle. Staff will meet with City Council on August 24th to discuss our vision, goals and priorities. Then, over the next two weeks, the City Administrator and Finance Director will meet with each department head to further discuss needs and priorities for each functional area of the City’s operations.

Now is also the time for organizations seeking financial support from the City in 2013 to submit their Community Funding Requests. The City supports the community by providing resources to non-governmental organizations for projects that supplement municipal government operations and enhance the quality of life in our community. It is usually not possible to fund all requests, and each one is objectively evaluated and prioritized. A form is available to submit requests in a format that helps staff and elected officials rank each request based on seven factors described on the projects priority criteria form. Requests must be received by August 31st to be considered in the next budget year. Off cycle requests will also be considered, subject to the availability of funds. Funding decisions are made by City Council in an open meeting.

During the regularly scheduled work sessions in September and October, City Council will review and prioritize requests from department heads as well as those from outside organizations seeking funds through the community request process. Work sessions are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month starting at 8:30 AM. They are open to the public and are broadcast on cable channel 10.

We follow rules in the Colorado Revised Statutes regarding budget deadlines and the public hearing process. Council must be presented with a budget by October 15th. In order to meet that requirement, a presentation of the proposed 2013 budget will be scheduled during the regular meeting on Tuesday, October 2nd.  At that meeting, a public hearing date will be set and then information about the budget will be published. Council must approve the budget before the end of 2012.

Distinct budgets for the General Fund, Conservation Trust Fund, SteamPlant Event Center Fund, and the separate water and sewer operations within the Water and Wastewater Enterprise Fund are developed. The City has both general government and business type (or “enterprise”) funds. The government funds are primarily supported by sales taxes and intergovernmental revenue. Enterprise funds are used for business-type activities with user fees and charges that cover all costs.

Each budget is based on a variety of assumptions such as the rate of inflation for goods and services, taxable sales trends, lodging occupancy rates, development activity and the demand for various municipal services that users pay to receive. After evaluating assumptions and the fixed costs in the budget, discretionary areas of spending are considered. Priorities are based on a number of factors, such as public safety, benefits to the community, avoidance of future capital spending and future cost efficiencies.

Capital spending is proposed for routine replacements and one-time projects or purchases. We always have more capital requests than available funds, so some cuts or deferrals will need to be determined during the review process.

Setting a budget always involves some difficult choices. Most available dollars are dedicated to what are generally considered basic municipal services – fire and police protection, public works, land use, planning and administration. Many residents and business owners also place a high value on cultural and recreation amenities.

Expenditures approved in the budget should reflect the values and priorities of the community. It is our goal to use all resources for the greatest long-term good of Salida. We encourage citizens to speak to their council representatives and attend the public meetings so that broad community input can be considered in the budget process.