The town of Silverthorne stands to benefit from unplanned increases in revenues as it moves into the second year of its biennial 2013-14 budget.
On Tuesday Donna Braun, Silverthorne’s finance director, presented an update to the town council during a budget workshop at town hall. Among the pleasant surprises reported were an unforeseen increase in sales tax revenue and an unexpected boost in funds from building permits and licenses.
“It’s refreshing to be making adjustments to the budget because sales tax revenues are higher than we anticipated when we originally adopted the 2013-2014 budget,” said assistant town manager Ryan Hyland. “It’s been a slow climb, but revenues are almost back to 2007 revenue levels.”
If trends continue, Braun told council members, the town could expect overall 2013 sales tax revenue to reach an estimated $8.6 million, which would be a 5.95 percent increase over 2012. Department officials are budgeting for 2014 sales tax revenues of $8.9 million, which would be a 3.26 percent increase over 2013.
Due to a voter-approved initiative in the 1990s, 60 percent of Silverthorne’s 2 percent sales tax goes to the town’s capital projects fund. The rest goes to the general fund.
“The increase is due in part to conservative budgeting when we compiled the budget last year,” Braun said. “This also is the first full year we were able to budget for sales tax revenue from the new Lowes (Home Improvement) store, which opened last August. Lowes has a big impact, but the economy has been more active than in the last five years and there are other categories reporting gains over what we budgeted.”
One of those funding categories up sharply this year relates to revenues generated from building permit and licensing applications, which are up by a whopping 84 percent compared with 2012.
Those increased revenues are primarily due to an affordable housing project currently under construction near the intersection of Colorado Highway 9 and 11th Street on the northwest side of town. The 64-unit, multi-building project is being funded by the Archdiocese of Denver.
Despite the substantial increase in revenue from building permits, Braun said the town is estimating 2014 funds to come in at $281,000, which would be a decrease from 2013.
“We’re excited to have a new development and we’re hopeful construction activity will continue to increase, but we’re not expecting permit applications to come in at the same level as this year,” Braun said. “You can’t depend on these large-scale projects every year.”
The town of Silverthorne adopted the practice of drafting two-year budgets during the 1990s, Braun said. Although the town still has to appropriate funds annually to account for any changes in revenues and expenditures, compiling biennial budgets allows town officials to think about future projects.
“The two-year budget system has worked well for us because it eliminates a lot of time wasted on the minutia,” Braun said. “It allows us to focus on planning for long-term projects, rather than worrying about buying pencils and pens.”
Although the increased funds are a positive sign for Silverthorne, town officials are still working on 2014 budget revisions. Changes to the budget, including the addition or elimination of any proposed projects, will not be presented until town council’s second meeting in October. A brief budget presentation and public hearing will take place prior to the council’s final approval of the budget in November.
“The increase is due in part to conservative budgeting when we compiled the budget last year.”
Finance director, town of Silverthorne