City Council readies to cast $122.6 million vote | ParkRecord.com

City Council readies to cast $122.6 million vote

Jay Hamburger The Park Record

The Park City Council is expected to approve the municipal budget on Thursday, a balanced financial plan that generated little interest from Parkites over the six-plus weeks it took to craft the numbers.

The City Hall budget for the 2013 fiscal year, running from mid-2012 until mid-2013, covers approximately $122.6 million.

Of that total, a little less than $51.1 million will be set aside for the day-to-day operations of the municipal government and payments related to bonds, up about 6 percent from the previous fiscal year.

Another approximately $71.5 million will be put into accounts to pay for capital projects. The money earmarked for projects sometimes carries over from year to year, and much of the funding for the next fiscal year was already in the budget. The total includes $17.5 million in new projects, with more than half of the new funding requested for the waterworks system.

Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council launched the formal budget talks in early May, holding meetings and hearings with only scattered attendance by rank-and-file Parkites. There has been less interest in the annual budget talks since the ones held at the height of the recession. City Hall leaders have not requested an increase in property taxes, likely one of the reasons for the lackluster interest this year.

The City Council is scheduled to cast its vote during a meeting starting at 5 p.m. in the Marsac Building. The 2013 fiscal year will be the first of City Hall’s two-year budget cycle. The discussions about the first year of a budget cycle are seen as being more critical than the second year since many of the decisions apply to two years rather than one.

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Some of the new capital projects that are expected to be approved in the overall budget on Thursday include:

  • approximately $2 million to build seasonal housing for bus drivers on the grounds of the Public Works Building. The federal government will fund the project.
  • $300,000 for an assessment of historic buildings in Old Town that will detail preservation efforts. Officials anticipate spending another $400,000 on the assessment in the 2014 fiscal year.

    Meanwhile, the mayor and City Council have discussed options to fund improvements to Main Street, purchase open space and continue City Hall’s long running efforts to upgrade Old Town streets.

    An increase in the sales-tax rate is under consideration as a mechanism to raise the money needed for the projects and the land purchases. Such an increase — one-half of one cent on each dollar spent — could raise approximately $3.2 million annually to start. The increase would not be paid on unprepared foods.

    City Hall must put the increase to voters. The City Council on June 28 could decide whether to put the ballot measure to voters in November.

    Other spending decisions that are anticipated to be made as part of the budget approval include:

  • keeping the salary range of most staffers the same as the previous fiscal year. Staffers could receive raises within the pay range, though. The budget does not call for any salary cuts. City Hall’s pay plan is based on market studies involving regional cities and other resort communities. The City Councilors earlier decided against raises for themselves and the mayor.
  • increasing the staffing level of the municipal government slightly. The net gain would be 5.34 full time-equivalents. One full time-equivalent is equal to one person working 40 hours each week. The Water Department’s staffing level will increase by 4.33 full time-equivalents based on the needs at the new water-treatment plant at Quinn’s Junction coupled with wider work on water-quality issues.

    One full time-equivalent will be added to the Information Technology team. Staffing in the Planning Department and Building Department will remain the same as in the previous 12 months.

  • water prices for municipal customers will increase by 18 percent. The increased revenues will fund waterworks projects like new lines and the water-treatment plant.