After a series of public work sessions, staff finalized a proposed budget for operating our city and improving public infrastructure next year. The public hearing and adoption of the budget are scheduled for November 4th.
Total expenditures of $14.6 million are greater than usual due to major capital projects in the water and wastewater enterprise and general fund. Capital spending accounts for nearly half of the total spending planned for next year.
Even in a typical year, Salida spends a much larger percentage of its total budget on capital improvements than most Colorado municipalities. While this means that our community benefits from a lot of public improvement projects, it also puts constraints on ongoing maintenance and response activities.
Operating expenditures consist primarily of personnel costs. Municipal government is a services organization. As such, people are one of our most important assets and are necessary to complete capital projects, maintain public infrastructure and provide other services. We are responding to personnel hiring and equity issues through a combination of cost of living, merit and market adjustments in the proposed budget, but are continuing to tightly manage operating costs.
Staff is finalizing specifications and bid documents for several projects. We will advertise for proposals from contractors early in 2015 so the following projects will be underway as soon as practical.
- Street Re-builds – The final phase of the H Street project includes new water mains, a storm sewer drainage system, curb, gutter and asphalt roadway, and coordination with utility companies to move lines underground from 8th Street to Highway 50. Also scheduled for re-builds are 14th from J to K and two blocks of K Streets.
- Slurry Seal – The useful life of roads still in relatively good condition can be further extended, avoiding the major cost of a complete re-build. Dodge, Nicholls and sections of 8th and E Streets are now scheduled for resurfacing in 2015.
- Walkways – Sidewalk replacements, stamped concrete crosswalks and a new river trail are planned.
- Pool and recreation – Outdoor soaking pools, new locker rooms, tennis courts and public restrooms are all included in the proposed budget, a portion of which is contingent on the award of pending grants and private contributions.
The City currently has adequate reserves overall. We plan to spend some of cash saved in recent years to finish upgrading the water treatment plant and complete some of the pool upgrades. Existing debt will be reduced by $677,000.
Sales tax is the most significant revenue source for the City, and it is projected to grow 5% for the full year in 2014 followed by an additional 2% in 2015. Over $1.8 million in grant revenue is projected in the proposed budget including funds from the Department of Local Affairs, Greater Outdoors Colorado, State Historic Fund and USDA / Rural Development.
The City never has sufficient funding for all budget requests. One of the most important parts of the budget process is establishing the highest priorities for the coming year. An objective prioritization process helps ensure available resources are used to achieve what matters most to the council and community members. Priorities are based on a number of factors, such as community benefit, future cost efficiencies, feasibility and readiness.
Residents have many opinions about various components of the budget. Public input is an important part of the process, and we encourage you to become informed about city finances.
It is not possible to provide a complete overview of the budget within one short article, and this covers just a few key highlights. For additional detail, the proposed budget and materials from all the work sessions are posted under the financial documents section of our website. We encourage citizens to speak to their council representatives and attend public meetings so that broad community input can continue to be considered as we finalize the annual budget.