Basalt budget back to ‘normal’ for ’99
Basalt’s town budget will return to a traditional level in 1999 after a year that saw both revenues and expenses bloated due to an expensive bridge project.
The Town Council approved expenditures of nearly $2.58 million for this year’s general fund. That’s a 40 percent decrease from last year’s expenditures of about $4.3 million.
Most of the difference is due to the town’s construction of a new bridge over the Roaring Fork River and associated work on the new entrance to town last year, explained Kent Mueller, whose last day as town administrator was Dec. 31.
He noted that the town’s total highway and streets budget was about $2.28 million last year. That shrunk to $736,000 for 1999.
The town paid for most of the bridge work and an extended Midland Avenue through a grant and by dipping into its reserves for about $500,000.
This year, the town is socking away $158,000 to build its reserve to more than $950,000.
As usual, the town’s budget relies heavily on sales taxes. “Sales-tax revenue projected for the budget year 1999 is 5 percent higher than expected in 1998,” wrote Mueller in a budget memo.
The town anticipates $1.41 million from its general sales tax this year. That’s 51 percent of all revenues.
The town estimated 1998 sales tax revenues to be $1.34 million.
By comparison, property taxes raised only $208,768 last year. The mil levy will drop, but the property-tax revenue anticipated to be collected in 1999 is about $238,000
Basalt’s building boom has also supplied an important chunk of the town’s revenues.
“Fees from building permits, which indicate the pace of construction, were two-and-one-half times higher in 1998 than were projects at the start of the year,” Mueller wrote in his budget memo. “This high level is somewhat reduced in the 1999 budget revenue projections.”
That decrease is expected because the town government continues to have a moratorium in place on most major development applications while it to works on land-use planning guidelines. That freeze has left few development approvals in the pipeline, thus few permits to issue.
The same growth that fuels revenues is also responsible for much of the town’s expenses, Mueller pointed out in his memo.
“The most important and pervasive dynamic of the region affecting Basalt continues to be growth,” he wrote. “Most of the major goals of the board of trustees address, to varying extents, the direct and indirect consequences of the increasing popularity of Basalt as a place to live, work and recreate.
“Growth is often accompanied by increased expectation of the provision of services such as planning, parks, streets, recreation, trails, sophisticated law enforcement, environmental protection, etc.”
The town’s $2.58 million budget for this year is $330,000, or 24 percent greater than in 1997. That’s another factor that demonstrates how out of whack the budget was last year.
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.