Snowmass cuts budget, again |

Snowmass cuts budget, again

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Anticipating greater declines in sales tax revenue than previously thought, the Snowmass Village Town Council adopted a contingency budget with additional cuts Tuesday night.

The town’s budget cuts for 2009, including cuts made in December, now total roughly $2.2 million.

The cuts were based, in part, on a survey of approximately 20 businesses in Snowmass Village. The survey showed a 24 percent decline in sales tax collections in the lodging and retail sectors. At surveyed restaurants, sales tax was down about 7 percent.

In addition to the survey, the town also looked at bus ridership, solid waste data and the Mountain Travel Research Report, which tracks occupancy.

However, Town Council members noted they did not yet know how the addition of Base Village ” with its lodging, restaurants and stores, the first phase of which opened this season ” would impact sales tax revenue.

Approved cuts include the elimination of many donations and sponsorships, intended equipment purchases and the Junior Ranger program.

However, even in Tuesday’s cuts, the council continued to attempt to preserve jobs and public services. To do so, council held off on suggested cuts to service or personnel.

It also kept the community picnic, and a small budget for the Part-Time Homeowners Advisory Board.

However, the council asked its Financial Advisory Board to look more closely at the logistics of cutting seasonal traffic control officers or transit service in the future.

It also asked the board to examine staff salaries, which total about $6.4 million per year, and staff benefits, which total roughly $2.7 million per year.

Even after cuts, the current budget includes a 2.25 percent staff salary increase in July and a 7 percent increase in the amount the town pays for staff benefits, in June.

In addition, the council also asked staff to consider whether it would be prudent to dip into the budget contingency fund, or the current fund balance, to make up for a possible revenue shortfall.

The contingency budget adopted in December assumed a sales tax revenue decline of 10 percent. The contingency budget adopted Tuesday assumed a drop in sales tax revenue of between 15 and 20 percent.

In a memo, staff noted that they may recommend additional cuts after the ski season.

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