Frisco ‘conservative’ with 2021 budget, considers ditching BBQ Challenge
FRISCO — Town council members approved Frisco’s 2021 budget on first reading during a regular meeting this week, and took the opportunity to discuss potentially major changes to the town’s event schedule in the future.
Frisco officials got a more detailed look at the town’s financial situation during a budget presentation delivered by Town Manager Nancy Kerry and Finance Manager Bonnie Moinet Tuesday night. Overall, staff expressed satisfaction in how funds have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
“Surprisingly, the summer tourism was much better than we feared in the spring,” Kerry said. “… Overall we met this moment that was presented, we navigated fiercely. I think that really demonstrates what the team did, and we’re in good financial shape as a result of all the actions we took collectively as a team, as a council, and as a community.”
Frisco is projecting to finish 2020 with a total fund balance of more than $33 million, including a general fund balance of $14.3 million, well in excess of the required $7 million reserve. In total, the town is anticipating a positive net change in its fund balance by the end of the year.
After anticipating more considerable losses earlier this year, Frisco’s revenue streams appear to have bounced back over the summer. The budget only anticipates a loss of about $2.2 million from 2019 revenue, thanks in part to investments by the town to support local businesses through the pedestrian promenade and Love Frisco, Shop Frisco campaign.
But the town isn’t projecting a major increase in revenue next year — $21.5 million, about the same as 2020 — at least not on paper.
“The 2021 budget in summary is focused on fiscally conservative policies, very reasonable revenue projections, and necessary expenditures to meet what (the council) has identified as priorities,” Kerry said.
The town is projecting total expenditures in the ballpark of $29.7 million in 2021, which would lower the overall fund balance by about $8.3 million, to $24.8 million. Most of the town’s funds, including the general fund, are expected to be balanced by the end of next year.
The biggest deficits are expected in the capital improvement, Summit County Housing Authority 5A, water and marina funds. The most notable expenditures listed include nearly $5 million from the 5A fund for potential housing projects, and more than $3.5 million from the marina fund set aside for capital improvements.
“In these other funds the revenues don’t always exceed expenditures because we have so many capital projects, and that’s the purpose of these funds is to do that,” Moinet said.
The council largely approved of the budget, but raised questions about where else they could try and roll back expenses. Much of the conversation took place around the role of town-sponsored events, and whether or not they’re still necessary to drive tourism to the area.
Council Member Dan Fallon pointed to the annual Colorado BBQ Challenge, saying it may be time to let another town take on the festival.
“I cannot support an event we spent $273,000 a year to do,” Fallon said. “I have maintained for a long time, theoretically what would happen if one year we did nothing at all? What would we rely on, how would people view the town, and what would our brand look like? We found out this year.
“What we found out was that with the money and the talent involved in those amenities we’ve developed over the last 10 years — trails, the marina, the (Peninsula Recreation Area), Main Street connectivity — those are all things we do really well that are part of our character, and that are abundant without that peripheral layer of accoutrement that’s not really us, and that’s contrived to a large degree.”
Fallon recommended a deeper conversation into the efficacy and practicality of hosting large events, and said the town should instead be focused on supporting efforts geared toward residents like Wassail Days, concerts in the park, and community cleanup days.
Other council members agreed that it was time to have the discussion, and perhaps turn efforts to supporting a pedestrian promenade long-term. The town will hold a more formal work session on the topic sometime early next year, likely in February.
“We’ve heard this conversation a couple different times and ways, but it wasn’t until we had this time with the promenade and this alternative reality that we really saw some possibility not doing those events,” said Council Member Jessie Burley. “… I’m totally open to looking at really evaluating that events piece. In my mind I see us putting that money and effort towards the promenade on a permanent basis.”
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