The Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 26, approved the 2014 budget, including almost $8.5 million in capital spending for onetime projects.
The council voted unanimously to approve the budget. Councilman Mike Dudick was absent.
The town’s budget has two components: the operating budget, which pays for costs such as snow plows and police, and the capital fund, for onetime costs for items such as building and construction. Capital expenses are taken from the excise fund.
The town is spending $8,433,000 on capital projects for 2014, including upgrading paving, renovating the Masonic Hall and Breckenridge theater, improving medians on Highway 9, building a Main Street park and improving the skateboard park. Two projects were added to the budget after the Oct. 29 budget retreat: a French Street roundabout and an additional section of medians.
Town manager Tim Gagen said the 2014 operating budget is down significantly from this year, because some of the money was reallocated into separate funds. Staff levels are the same and there are no added services.
The four new separated items include a marijuana fund, which will collect the excise tax from retail sales and fund treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse, as well as provide for one new police officer position. The cultural and arts fund was taken out of the operating fund, so items like the Riverwalk and Arts District now are in their own fund, to be governed by the town in 2014, but eventually by a nonprofit arts board in the future.
A new cemetery fund will provide for long-term maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery Breckenridge owns.
Finally, a separate child care fund, moved out of the affordable housing fund, will keep a little more than $800,000 to fund the scholarship program through 2104.
The budget transfers the remaining $2.3 million of the existing child care-related fund balance to the capital fund.
“With these capital improvements, the town is unjustly characterized as a wealthy little town with lots of extra money, we could afford an extra $800,000 forever,” Mayor John Warner said. “It doesn’t take long for a healthy fund balance of $10 million to go away if there’s a big unfunded expense every year.”
There were approximately 75 parents and community members in attendance at the meeting in support of continuing to fund the child care scholarship program.
“After 2014, it will have to be a discussion by council as to where the funds will come from to continue to support that program,” Gagen said.
The mill levy was also set at 5.07 for property tax, one of the lowest in recent years. Property tax is down, Gagen said, because the town has paid off some debt and assessed values have dropped, and ballot measure 2B did not pass. Sales, rent and accommodation revenues are up, however, making the overall 2014 budget up from 2013.
“Had 2B not failed, we would have a different number to raise money for a sustainable revenue stream for child care,” Warner said. “Without the approval of the voters, we have to revert back to the old mill levy.”
However, Councilman Mark Burke said even if 2B had passed, residents would see a lower mill levy anyway, because of the debt payoff.
One other large fund is the marketing fund. The town contracts with the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, or GoBreck, for its marketing needs. This year, the town is supplementing an additional $500,000 on top of the normal revenue, to keep up in a competitive market.
“The right thing to do is just to get that money in the market,” Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said.
The marketing fund also provides funds for town-sponsored events, such as the Dew Tour and Blue River Series.
At the Nov. 26 meeting, the council agreed to transfer an additional $41,000 from the excise fund into the marketing fund for GoBreck, bringing the total transfer into the marketing fund to $1,151,635, after confusion regarding the starting number in the fund. GoBreck will receive $3,271,000 total in 2014.
Councilman Ben Brewer was hesitant to approve the extra funding transfer to the marketing organization.
“It seems like every meeting we have something to discuss about how they need more money, how we’re going to give them more money, and I’m starting to reach the end of my rope,” he said.
A full copy of the 2014 town of Breckenridge budget can be seen online at www.townofbreckenridge.com.