During the October 9 budget meeting, Interim Town Manager Gary Suiter kicked off the meeting with an overall budget assessment. In summary, he felt that the 2013 revised/2014 proposed budget was largely routine and status quo. A full summary is available online
, but here are a few highlights.
1. We're investing in capital improvements
An SGM plan is included within the General Fund, RETT Fund and the Road Mill Levy Fund will allow the Town to invest in immediate repairs to Town-owned facilities and equipment, and dedicate funds to maintain these resources long-term.
2. 2014-2018 operating revenues exceed operating expenditures and capital
This is consistent with one of the Town's overall budget strategy points to maintain approximately the same current expenditures and service levels to ensure moving towards a sustainable balanced budget over the next five years.
3. We have a sales tax projection of 4% increase each year for the next five years
This number is conservative and is consistent with what Council approved last year (the state of Colo. has budgeted a 5% increase. Aspen has 4% budgeted). Currently, in our collections, we're up 15.9% year-to-date (over 2012 actual).
"As a tourist destination and a community that depends on weather and other factors, we as a Council agree with a conservative approach," said Mayor Boineau. "We go into the budget process conservative, and then adjust quarterly as the economy allows."
4. Property taxes are down for the third year in a row
Property tax-assessed valuation is down by 5.8 percent. There is a re-assessment period that will go through June, 2014. Why is this important? It has a direct effect on our Real Estate Transfer Tax. Per conversations with local realtors, condos are moving, but the sale of "big ticket items" such as single-family homes remain stagnant.
5. Operating expenditures are budgeted to increase by 4.2%
This is due to a few factors:
6. The RETT fund balance - expenditures will continue to exceed revenues through 2015
- Capital purchases by the Police Department, the Road Division, Shop Division, and Solid Waste & Recycling
- Increased operating and maintenance expenditures due to increased vehicle gas and fuel costs
- Personnel services including a one-time 2014 merit-based salary increase of 5% and an increase in health insurance costs.
The RETT fund is one of the most volatile funds and is nearly impossible to predict (per Suiter, the government does not want to get into the business of trying to predict the real-estate market). In 2017 and 2018, revenues should exceed expenditures. This is largely due to the SGM plan and a shortfall in revenues from the Recreation Center. Staff has identified some possible future funding options to relieve
some of the financial pressures in the RETT fund and Road Fund. These
will be evaluated with the FAB and brought forward as recommended to the
Council in 2014.
7. Marketing-Special Events Fund is balanced through 2018 with revenues exceeding expenditures.
With the new financial software, the accounting for the expenditures will be accounted for in accordance with the business plan. This applies to the group sales fund as well. The Marketing & Special Events Fund and how this is directly impacted by the new business plan (plus exciting new details on scoring mechanisms for special events and new available tools) were laid out by staff and representatives from the Marketing, Group Sales, & Special Events board.
Conversations continue until 3:00 p.m. so stay tuned!