While many are preparing for the upcoming winter season, this time of year signals the conclusion of a different type of season for the Town of Snowmass Village – Budget Season.
Each year, the Town of Snowmass Village goes through its budget process to review current year revenues and expenditures, to project revenues, and to budget for new priorities. Anyone who has ever balanced their checkbook knows that affording everything you need isn’t always a simple task. For the federal government, this process typically results in a lot of bickering, deficit spending, and even full-blown government shutdowns. Here at the local level, however, shutting down isn’t an option.
The 2016 Town of Snowmass Village budget was unanimously adopted by the Town Council ahead of schedule on November 9th. Just like the previous 16 years, the Town expects this most recent budget to receive the Government Finance Officers Association’s “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.” This award signifies that the Town and staff satisfy nationally recognized budget and accounting guidelines.
Approval of the budget is among the most important policy decisions the Town Council makes. This is where stated goals become actual projects for the Town to carry out. It’s where the Town stops talking about what is desired and gets to work. While it is important for the Town to state they care about the community, public safety, recreational opportunities, and the environment, it’s more important to prioritize taxpayer money and make sure it gets spent in accordance with the stated goals.
While the Town does spend a lot of time on boring (but important) financial details, bureaucratic lingo, and reviewing the necessary details of every item, Town Staff and Town Council work hard to keep their eye on this big picture as well.
So… what priorities and big picture items did the Town Council identify for the community?The 2016 budget was adopted to focus on the following Council goals and objectives:
- Sustainability will remain an overarching principle that will guide Town projects
- Take the necessary steps to improve the overall connectivity of the community
- Broadly evaluate the Town’s capital needs and make strategic improvements in infrastructure
- Assess the future needs/desired outcomes of the housing program
- Commence an economic development strategy that will enhance the community, not just grow it
- Improve the Town’s communication with the community
- Undertake a pragmatic examination of preserving and sustaining the Town’s iconic treasures
In the budget, these goals are taking shape by putting the Town’s money where its mouth is. Here’s just a few highlights of some exciting projects coming up for the Town:
- Continuing to improve the energy efficiency and style of the Town’s affordable housing inventory through a renovation of the Palisades and Brush Creek housing complexes: $3.2 million project
- Evaluating the snowmelt system on Carriage Way (Snowmelt Road) to prepare for upgrades, which will ultimately improve efficiency and longevity of the system: $115,000 project
- Improving existing trails, constructing new ones, and evaluating the Town’s Community Connectivity overall to prioritize future trail, transit, and bikeway projects: a $322,122 project
However, these projects and the many more like them aren’t simply picked by the Town Council; they are the priorities identified by the entire community. The following priorities were listed as the top 5 items for the Town to focus on by the citizens in the 2015 Community Survey:
Local Economic Development and Vitality
The Availability of Affordable Housing
Town Infrastructure/Evaluating Future Infrastructure Needs
Walkability, Connectivity, and Pedestrian Safety
Our Tourism Draw/Bringing more Visitors to Town
It’s no accident that the Council priorities and these Community priorities have matched up and directed the spending in the 2016 budget.
At the same time, the 2016 budget has made room for a significantly increased emergency reserve to ensure financial security. It also maintains a healthy fund balance for future unforeseen projects and priorities to ensure the Town can put its money where its mouth is for many years to come.
If you would like to disagree, ask questions, or comment on the budget process and Town projects, Town staff welcome your input.
Revenue and Expenditure Breakdown: