Basalt pares expenses in 2011 town budget
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – The Basalt Town Council has approved a 2011 budget that anticipates a slight drop in revenues and a beefier cut in expenditures as the town battles to recover from the recession.
The council approved a $5.03 million general fund budget. That is a decrease of 14.5 percent, or $849,889, in expenditures from the year-end budget anticipated for 2010.
The town anticipates revenues falling about 3 percent in 2011 to $5.44 million.
That creates a surplus of $415,285. However, nearly $370,000 of that surplus is in restricted funds available only for specific uses, said Judi Tippetts, town finance director. About $45,000 will be forwarded in 2011 to general fund reserves with no restrictions on use, she said.
Revenues from the 2 percent general sales tax and the 1 percent sales tax for trails and open space are expected to be flat. The general sales tax is forecast to raise $2,475,000, while the open space tax will raise an additional $1,050,000. Combined, the sales taxes account for about 65 percent of all town revenues.
Property tax revenues are expected to increase to $621,266 next year from $562,733 this year.
On the expense side, two staff positions were pared to part-time, reducing salaries and benefits provided by the town. The building inspector and a senior planner were reduced to part-time, reflecting the bust in the construction activity and lack of new development applications.
The planning department’s budget dropped from $817,371 this year to $436,886 next year. That includes the reduction of one position to part-time and the completion of a major project in 2010. The town’s share of the restoration of the charcoal kilns near Arbaney Park in 2010 was $341,500.
The police department’s budget dropped slightly from $1.3 million to $1.12 million.
In addition, no open space and trails expenditures are currently budgeted this year. Last year nearly $918,000 was spent from that fund on a variety of projects. Town Manager Bill Kane said unforeseen opportunities to buy property could arise this year that would require an expenditure and an increase in the town budget.
A graphic included in the town budget said 36 percent of 2011 expenditures will be for general government, 35 percent on public safety, 15 percent on public works and 14 on culture and recreation.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a limited-liability company has proper standing to sue the city of Aspen over its affordable-housing fees.