Breckenridge plans 2021 budget with caution |

Breckenridge plans 2021 budget with caution

Breckenridge Town Council discussed a $60 million budget at the town council work session on Tuesday.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge Town Council discussed the 2021 budget at Tuesday’s council work session, which includes about half of the year’s revenue — $29 million — being saved for emergencies, future projects and other needs. 

In looking at the impact of revenue decreases, town Finance Director Brian Waldes explained that as the summer was much more successful than anticipated, the town accumulated more revenue than expected based on the 2020 revised budget projections that occurred when the shutdown hit. Based on the original budget projections, the town fell short $4.8 million in 2020 revenue while projections were to lose $13 million.

As 2020 revenue was all over the place — down 64.8% in April but up 9.7% in August compared with 2019 — staff came up with projections for 2021 in comparison with 2019. They estimated that revenue would be down around 40% January through May with possibility for some growth in July and August as has been the case this year. Town manager Rick Holman said that he would be shocked if revenues actually end up 40% down and expects that there will be less of a decrease unless COVID-19 isn’t under control in 2021.

Table shows how information from 2020 and 2019 budget was used to make estimates for the 2021 budget.
Photo from Oct. 13 town council work session packet

In total the town’s proposed 2021 budget starts with $60.8 million and ends with $60.4 million. Expected revenue is $90.8 million and $29.2 million will go into fund reserves. Holman noted that while the year is expected to end with $60 million in the bank, funds will be needed for capital projects that are scheduled for future years.

Table shows Breckenridge’s proposed 2021 budget.
Photo from Oct. 13 town council work session packet

Mayor Eric Mamula asked about the budget effect if there were to be another shutdown or stricter restrictions were imposed. Waldes said that staff has run budget projections by the month for multiple scenarios. Holman said that for the town to be in a dire position, a full shutdown for multiple months would have to occur. Mamula said that the town needs to keep money in its back pocket to provide assistance. 

“People always come forward and say, ‘you’re not plowing my sidewalk enough, you guys need to get out here.’ What’s going to be more important, those kinds of needs or when FIRC comes to us and say they need $1 million because they have people that are starving. We need to make sure that … we have money available that we can help the community when the time comes, because it will come,” Mamula said.

Walds said that staff’s goal is to be flexible and to be able to respond to and measure any new information, as well as to let council know what funds are safe to release. It was noted that the town is expected to receive over $400,000 from the state to reimburse for the town’s business grant program. As several open positions in town departments are currently frozen to keep costs down, Holman suggested reevaluating this piece later in the year as being short staffed in a department is hard on other staff members. 

Police Chief Jim Baird mentioned in his overview of the public safety sector of the budget that some training costs were cut down. Council member Dick Carleton expressed concern over this in today’s day, but Baird said this is because many trainings have moved to an online format due to COVID-19, so costs associated to send personnel to training sites have been eliminated. Carleton asked the chief to bring it to the council’s attention if any important training opportunities come up that fall outside the proposed budget. 

When Community Development Director Mark Truckey discussed the community development budget, he said that the department reduced their sustainability budget by about $14,000.

“I am concerned that we have some big energy goals to accomplish over the next nine years. … I understand that we have a huge level of uncertainty but moving the sustainability stuff forward is a huge priority of mine and even taking small steps backwards is hard,” council member Kelly Owens said.

The $14,000 was put back into the sustainability budget based on the council’s majority opinion. The recreation department, which is working to expand outdoor activities this year, lists $5.3 million as its total proposed expenditures for 2021, which is still about $180,000 less than 2019 expenditures.

The budget review included a list of “tier II” budget measures the town could use in case of a dire circumstance. The budget measures could eliminate as much as $3.1 million in costs through furloughs, cutting office supplies, closing recreational facilities and other measures. Mamula said the only thing on the list he would not cut is translation and security services for the municipal court.

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