Frisco re-examines town budget
FRISCO – In the words of Frisco Town Manager Alan Briley, the town is going on a diet – financially speaking. As long as town officials cut back their appetite for capital projects, Frisco should be in great shape.
As Briley announced June revenue results at the worksession Tuesday, he led a frank discussion with council members about the town’s budget.
June’s numbers – down 13.59 percent from the same time last year – mark six months of declining revenue for Frisco. It’s also the lowest number recorded in June since before 1998.
“We are 22 percent below where we were at this time last year,” Briley said of the total year. “The good news is we’re only about 4 percent down from budget. I’m not very concerned about these numbers because I hear that July and August have been really good for retailers.”
The town is only 4 percent under budget because it anticipated sales tax declines with the opening of a Target store in Silverthorne, at the loss of business at the town’s No. 1 tax generator, Wal-Mart.
Still, declining revenues means Frisco can’t continue to tackle capital projects at the same rate it has been or the fund balance could be depleted by next year, he said.
“Budget is no longer at double digit increases in revenue,” Briley wrote in a memo to the council. “We need to take a long, realistic approach to the capital budget. Bottom line is that we are in fantastic shape if we did not have such an aggressive capital fund.”
Briley isn’t optimistic the economy will turn around quickly. For this reason, he estimated the town’s budget for the next five years while assuming no increase in sales tax revenue. He recommended the council plan on putting aside only about $1 million a year for capital expenses – with about $400,000 of that going toward projects.
The other $600,000 is committed to paying off capitalized leases and borrowing that funds work at the new Lakefront Park and Marina project.
“If you get a zero percent increase in five years – which I think is unheard of – you’ll still have $1 million a year going into capital and a general fund that’s above the levels that it’s at today,” Briley said. “Spending $1 million on capital is not that bad. It’s just not as good as spending $3 million.”
Not so long ago, the town council was budgeting $3 million for capital projects but not always finding ways to spend the money.
The council agreed with Briley’s recommendation, though Councilmember David Amli seemed hesitant and Councilmember Jon Zdechlik was not present.
“It’s a sound plan to at least keep us moving forward without reducing our services,” said Councilmember Rick Amico.
Councilmember Bernie Zurbriggen agreed and said he’d rather the town not start a new project than be forced to cut back on its basic services.
Frisco has three pages of projects that have been suggested by citizens or town officials, varying from the town taking over the annual Easter egg hunt to adding more pocket parks to purchasing land on the Dillon Dam Road for affordable housing.
Briley asked councilmembers to review the list and whittle it down to one that’s prioritized and realistic enough to make into a five-year action plan.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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