The City has supported the community by providing financial and/or staff resources to non-governmental organizations for special projects that supplement municipal government operations and enhance quality of life. This program is currently on hold pending resolution of the City’s operating budget shortfall.
Applications for funding were previously due at the end of August for consideration in the City’s budget in the following year. The application deadline has tentatively been extended to October 31. However, the program may be discontinued or scaled back pending possible re-allocations of sales tax revenue, which is the primary source of funding for the requests. New restrictions on the use of a portion of the City’s sales tax revenue essentially de-funded some government operations, and budget priorities are being re-assessed.
On March 24, 2015 voters approved Ordinance 2014-28 in a special election. It applies different restrictions on the use of the sales tax originally approved by voters and implemented as Ordinance No. 2008-34. This 1% sales tax is referred to as the “2A funds.” The additional amount of revenue now restricted for capital spending reduced the amount previously available for the operation, maintenance and improvement of streets and other infrastructure. To continue funding that work, other areas of operations must be adjusted. The total operating budget reflected a level of spending equal to the amount of available revenue. That means that the City must make operating budget cuts, spend unrestricted reserves or identify new taxes or fees to increase operating revenue.
The City Council has been provided with information about the possible operating budget shortfall since September 2014, including materials that summarized different approaches to making cuts and estimated costs of different services that the council might consider eliminating. They are continuing to assess priorities and what services matter most for the community both now and over a long-term horizon.
As stated on the community funding application form, the purpose of these funds is to support the community by providing financial and/or staff resources to non-governmental organizations for services and special projects that supplement municipal government operations and enhance the quality of life in our community. For those organizations or individual projects, the City endeavors to have some funding available to help promote the values and goals of the community. Five criteria are used to rank requests. Often, each measure is not applicable to all the requests; however, the criteria help to objectively evaluate the requests. Generally, funding is directed toward one-time projects rather than general operations of another entity. It should be noted that in accordance with C.R.S. 31-15-901, the City Council is authorized to appropriate funds to aid and foster charity organizations; however, no money can be provided to any organization wholly or in part under sectarian or denominational control.
Improvements in our local economy allowed the City to increase total funding in past years. For example, from 2009 to 2014, City sales tax grew by 28.3% but total general fund operating expenditures grew by only 15.6%. It is refreshing to see funds flowing back through the community in ways that make Salida a better and more vibrant place. City officials appreciate how much non-profit organizations contribute to the community. We hope the City can continue to provide funds for grant matches and other special projects or activities for which this program was intended.