On Oct. 25, the Breckenridge Town Council took an in-depth look at the 2017 budget during a special meeting.
Despite continuing increases in sales-tax revenue, Brian Waldes, the director of finance and information technology for the town, said that the budget does not increase at the same rate. He added that the budget is done conservatively because there is no telling when that revenue will dry up.
Both the expenditures and revenue will go up for the town. The 2017 budget will see some new revenue from the lift-ticket tax, as well as projected revenue if ballot measure 5A passes. The measure would add as much as $2.2 million into the town’s affordable housing fund.
The two new streams of revenue bump the town up slightly from last year. Revenue for 2016 is estimated to close at $67.6 million. Sales tax amounts to 33 percent of 2016’s estimated revenue. Proposed revenue for 2017 is $79.48 million.
“We’ve taken what we’re estimating we’re actually going to receive in 2016, which is higher than we budgeted for 2016, and then we add 1 percent to that assuming there’s going to be some growth, and that’s a formula we’ve used for many years. It’s very conservative, but it’s served us well,” Waldes said.
The original proposal had an additional stream of revenue coming from loans to help the town build large projects such as a water treatment plant.
However, at the meeting, the council decided to continue the discussion on the water plant, and has not approved that portion of the budget. Council members were concerned that the plan would cost the town $53 million, a large increase from when it was previously proposed at $30 million. The council will discuss getting a third party to look at the plan for a cost analysis, as well as seeing if there are other options to bring more water to the town.
Removing the water treatment plan from the budget also decreased proposed expenditures. This year’s expenditures are expected to close at a little over $74 million, while proposed 2017 expenditures bumped up to over $79 million. Some of the increase comes from the plan to improve the recreation center in Breckenridge over the next two years. This plan had been previously approved by the council.
Town council also had additional questions over the workforce housing plan presented in the budget. The concern was mostly around Denison 1, a housing project expected to break ground in the spring of 2017. The current plan is to build 16 units of about 900-1,000 square feet in size.
Mayor Eric Mamula voiced his concern that the cost per square foot was higher than it would be in other places in the county. Several council members also wondered what the demand for units was within the town. The council opted to wait on approving the workforce housing section of the budget in order to continue the discussion.
The parking and transportation fund will see a projected increase in revenue from the new paid-parking plan that was implemented recently by the town council. The budget is estimating $1,075,000 to come in from parking fees. Revenue from this fund is going into hiring seasonal transit drivers for the town. The town will also dedicate $3.125 million into various parking and transportation program improvements.
The marijuana fund is another category of the budget that will be seeing an increase, albeit a less predictable one. Waldes said at the meeting that he is still unsure why marijuana sales have done so well in the town this year, as the stores have not done much to adjust their pricing. Estimated tax revenue from both medicinal and recreational marijuana is more than $173,000 over what was budgeted for 2016. Marijuana revenue is also less restrictive than some of the other revenue streams coming into the town. For the 2017 budget, a portion of marijuana revenue will go toward hiring a new police officer. The surplus revenue will go into the child care fund.
Pending changes and further discussion on the water plant and workforce housing plan, town manager Rick Holman said that the budget will be presented as a resolution at the Nov. 22 town council meeting