Dillon staff proposes $20 million budget for 2022
The Dillon Town Council next month will vote on whether to adopt the town’s proposed budget for 2022.
Despite dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic over the past couple of years, Dillon Finance Director Carri McDonnell said the town government has successfully weathered the storm and finds itself in a strong financial situation to close out 2021.
“Overall, the town is doing very well,” McDonnell said. “The pandemic has not been too difficult on us. … When we did the (2021) budget, when we initially presented to council, we were very conservative in our revenue collection. We actually anticipated a drop of 35%, and that didn’t hold true.”
With regard to the town’s general fund — which is used for everyday expenses like staff salaries, events, public works operations and building maintenance — the town initially budgeted about $5.8 million in revenue for 2021, but staff now expects to bring in about $8.3 million by the end of the year, a hefty 21.4% increase from 2020.
But McDonnell said the town isn’t getting ahead of itself and is once again taking a cautious approach with regard to revenue expectations next year.
“The council has always appreciated that as a staff (Town Manager Nathan Johnson) and I are very conservative,” she said. “So we never look to increase (budgeted) revenues year over year. We used that same approach for 2022 … and that’s a standard approach for us is to just remain flat.”
According to a proposed budget presented to Town Council on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the town is expecting about $18.3 million in revenue and about $20.9 million in expenditures next year across all of its funds. McDonnell said the revenue shortfall is in part due to the town paying off former bond issuances and spending big on some projects that were delayed due to the pandemic, such as Town Park upgrades.
Sticking with the general fund, the proposed budget anticipates about $8 million in revenue compared with about $7.8 million in expenses. McDonnell said one of the main changes to the budget this year is planning for more consistent event offerings in town. After budgeting $441,434 on town concerts in 2021, the town ended up spending more than $1.6 million once the season kicked off in earnest and pandemic restrictions began to ease up. This year, the town has budgeted more than $1.5 million for concerts.
Most of the budget’s big-ticket items are laid out in the town’s capital improvement plan. The town roughly anticipates about $4.5 million in capital expenditures from the fund next year. That encompasses just under $2 million on park upgrades, including the next phase of Town Park improvements that were delayed from this year, such as the installation of the multiuse field and new playground.
The town has also budgeted about $800,000 for amphitheater improvements, including new stage lighting and other potential upgrades that could include finishing the stairs within the venue, providing additional vehicle access and more. Among other improvements, the town plans to spend about $150,000 on upgrading security at the town’s major facilities, including the amphitheater, marina, town hall, water treatment plant and maintenance facility.
The budget also reserves about $2.2 million for street reconstruction projects next year, funded largely by a voter-approved sales tax dedicated to such projects. In addition to annual resurfacing projects, the town has also set aside $625,000 for the installation of new sidewalks on Tenderfoot Street and $1.5 million for the reconstruction of Lodgepole Street from Lake Dillon Drive to LaBonte Street.
“At minimum, we’re looking at redoing some of the utilities — water and sewer — redoing the subgrade asphalt, adding sidewalk, formalizing parking to get some capacity, and some additional concrete and landscaping to make it look nicer,” Public Works Director Scott O’Brien said about the project.
The town is not expecting any significant increases in expenditures for its water and sewer funds, but it will be increasing water and sewer rates for customers by 2% next year to cover expenses based on a rate study conducted in 2019. Of note, McDonnell said the town chose not to move forward with planned rate increases last year due to the pandemic.
The budget sets aside about $1.2 million for capital improvements at the marina, including projects to replace the rental dock and move the fuel system. McDonnell said the town also has funds set aside to purchase replacement rental boats, but a lack of available boats for purchase may push the replacements back to 2023. Of note, after a strong summer at the marina that saw the amenity bring in more than $2.2 million in revenue, the town is budgeting for a less impactful year in 2022 due to uncertainty with outdoor activities.
“One thing that we always worry about with our outdoor activities — events and the marina — is that if we have a rainy summer, these numbers could look very different,” McDonnell said. “So we don’t want to be so conservative that we don’t have the money available to spend for what we need to do, but at the same time, we don’t want to overestimate revenues and overspend.”
The Town Council is well-versed with the proposed budget, as McDonnell has been regularly presenting different portions of the document since late July for feedback. She said the council would first consider the budget for adoption at its regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 7.
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