Dillon approves $18 million budget for 2021
DILLON — Dillon Town Council members approved a resolution to adopt Dillon’s 2021 budget Tuesday night, but officials say managing the town’s finances could become more of a moving target as the area deals with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
Dillon’s Finance Director Carri McDonnell provided council members with the most recent budget update for consideration this week, outlining a cautious approach to 2021 despite a surprisingly strong finish to 2020.
“It wasn’t that much different from any other year except we made a decision early on to go conservative and not to move away from that process,” McDonnell said. “And if in the future things change, we’ve already started a list of potential items that could come back in.”
Dillon expects to finish the year with a fund balance of about $16.3 million, in large part thanks to an increase in sales tax revenue this year. McDonnell said much of the town’s sales tax revenue stemmed from online shopping and isn’t necessarily indicative of how local businesses are performing.
Regardless, officials are planning for a 10% drop in sales taxes across the board from 2019. Other revenue sources were adjusted based on what the town saw in 2020.
According to the budget, Dillon is expecting more than $13.5 million in revenue in 2021 and over $18.2 million in expenditures, resulting in an anticipated budget shortfall of about $4.5 million across all of the town’s funds. In addition to the more than $6.6 million set aside in the town’s reserves, officials expect to have an available cash fund balance of about $5.2 million by the end of 2021.
Most of the town’s biggest expenditures — aside from general operating funds — will come in the form of capital improvements, including some projects initially planned for 2020 that were placed on hold due to COVID-19.
Among the most notable projects included in the budget are $1.7 million for Town Park improvements, $400,000 for U.S. Highway 6 sidewalk installations, and $1.5 million for the resurfacing of Tenderfoot Street. The town is set to close on the issuance of $3 million in bonds to help fund the Tenderfoot project, along with similar improvements to Lodgepole Street scheduled for 2022.
After a strong year at the Dillon Marina, in which the town took in well over $100,000 more in revenue than 2019, the town also has set aside $1.3 million for the implementation of Marina Master Plan projects.
Dillon is also making a number of cuts. The town is eliminating three full-time positions that are unfilled, along with several seasonal positions. Officials also slashed more than a half-million dollars across town events, most notably a more than 50% reduction in costs for town-run concerts.
The town also has decided not to make a planned increase to water and sewer rates next year in hopes of minimizing the financial impacts of COVID-19 on residents and businesses.
While the budget provides a good baseline to inform finance and policy decisions moving forward, it could see changes throughout the year depending on how revenue sources perform compared to expectations.
Overall, McDonnell said Dillon is still in a strong position financially despite the pandemic.
“I feel like the town has been able to weather the storm,” McDonnell said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to give out $210,000 in grants and loans to our business community earlier this year. Council will be continuing discussions to see if there’s more we can do. But I think we’re doing fairly well considering what’s going on.”
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