City Hall declares budget alert |

City Hall declares budget alert

The Park City Council recently declared the City Hall budget in alert status, a move that comes as officials worry about the effects of the recession on the local government’s finances.

The declaration had been expected, and there was little interest from regular Parkites as the elected officials made their decision. During an alert declaration City Hall will more tightly monitor department budgets and consider delaying expenditures if the result would not hurt municipal services.

City departments are compiling plans to delay or cut expenses, according to Bret Howser, City Hall’s budget officer. He said the plans will be ready by Jan. 1.

"Any changes we make should not impact the services the public is receiving," Howser said.

The move to the alert status comes as City Hall projects a 10 percent shortfall in sales-tax revenues during the municipal fiscal year, which runs from July until June. Fees collected from building permits and licenses are also expected to be down.

Howser said City Hall will evaluate the alert status monthly. He said it is likely the alert status will remain intact through the end of the fiscal year.

An alert is declared when the local government anticipates a drop of up to 9 percent in money reserves or major revenue sources like sales taxes, property taxes and building fees.

The last time City Hall declared an alert was in 2000, when construction dipped in the period before the 2002 Winter Olympics. If the financial situation worsens at City Hall, additional steps could be taken. Officials have said it is unlikely there would be a budget crisis, however.

There are fears in many circles that the recession could discourage ski vacationers this winter. Tourism officials, though, have also said January is traditionally the busiest month for making reservations for the remainder of the ski season.

Park City has enjoyed an expanding economy for much of its modern era, with strong tourism growth and record-setting construction tallies. The City Hall budget grew at a steady clip during the period as well.

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