Aspen City Council to begin budget talks Monday | AspenTimes.com

Aspen City Council to begin budget talks Monday

Staff report

The city of Aspen is looking at an operating budget of $59.5 million in 2015, a 6.5 percent increase from 2014, based on projections the Finance Department released Friday.

City-employee merit-based salary increases, staff reductions in the Information Technology Department and a 50-cent increase for first-hour downtown parking are some of the highlights in a presentation scheduled for Monday, when the Aspen City Council kicks off its monthlong budget discussion during a work session.

City employees could see merit-based pay increases of as much as 4 percent, similar to last year. Salary ranges also are expected to increase by an average of 2.9 percent to "reflect market changes," according to the Finance Department's Power Point presentation. Additionally, health care premiums for city employees are expected to increase by 3 percent.

With the city of Aspen and Pitkin County splitting into two information-technology departments after working together as one department for more than 20 years, the city's Information Technology Department is looking at staffing reductions of $381,000. When the split was made, the future of three city positions was uncertain. Finance officials could not be reached for comment on the staffing reductions or on the budget as a whole.

Among notable fee changes are a 50-cent increase to the first hour for commercial-core parking meters and a 3 percent increase for engineering fees, including permit, application, development-review and mitigation fees. Fee increases for water and electric utilities also are expected, with a change in tier thresholds for consumption-based charges and rate increases for availability and demand-based charges.

Projections for 2015 show a 14.6 percent increase in revenue, from $107.5 million in 2014 to $123.3 million in the upcoming year. Debt service shows a 9.9 percent increase, from $5 million in 2014 to $5.5 million in 2015.