Silverthorne budgets for additional staffing, town improvements and Exit 205 plan
The town of Silverthorne had higher revenue than expected this year after budgeting conservatively amid the pandemic, leaving some additional room for spending in 2021.
Laura Kennedy, director of finance for Silverthorne, said the town is projected to have $1 million more in sales tax revenue this year than it budgeted for. Kennedy also said this year saw more real estate activity than expected, meaning $250,000 more for the town in real estate transfer assessment revenue. On top of that, the town received $615,000 from the American Rescue Plan
As Silverthorne continues to boom with development, the town staff is getting busier, too. Kennedy said the town has decreased its budget for part-time employees and is increasing its budget for full-time wages and benefits as it looks to hire more staff.
“We’re also experiencing what seems like a world-wide problem right now in that we’re having difficulty filling positions, especially the part-time and seasonal ones,” Kennedy said.
Positions added to this year’s budget include a full-time front desk lead at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, a diesel mechanic, an events specialist and an accounting coordinator. Kennedy said there has been a 30% increase in utility accounts with the town, and that her department needed another set of hands to help manage the workload.
Some projects the town had budgeted from its capital improvement fund have been delayed and are, therefore, getting pushed to upcoming years. That includes a traffic signal at Ruby Ranch Road, a ramp at the Silverthorne Pavilion bridge, and various sidewalk and neighborhood improvements, which have been added to next year’s budget.
Looking ahead to 2022, Silverthorne is anticipating a 5% sales tax revenue increase from what is projected to be collected by the end of 2021. Kennedy said the town is also budgeting for a similar year to 2021 with real estate fees. While the town anticipates getting another $615,000 from the second half of the American Rescue Act, Kennedy said this won’t be included in the budget until those funds are actually received.
For general fund expenditures, the town will have to pay for increased premiums for staff health insurance, more public safety equipment and federal lobbying funds to get assistance with Interstate 70 Exit 205 improvements. In its capital improvement fund, the town is also budgeting $100,000 to update the plan on the best way to potentially modify the exit.
Council member Mike Spry asked why the town was investing six digits to update something that is the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Town Manager Ryan Hyland said the funds are a placeholder while the town works on more grant writing and lobbying at the federal level. He said council would be kept in the loop should any of the money be spent but that it’s in the budget in case the town needs it.
“I think that’s a placeholder where if we absolutely did not get any movement out of CDOT, and we have that conversation and decide, the very first step that we need to take is getting that plan updated and getting those numbers updated,” Hyland said. “… I know it’s a really painful concept that we have to pay to get that done when that project has been kind of ignored for more than a decade now, but it might be necessary.”
The town is also budgeting to add more new jobs: an assistant chief of police, a parks operator, a marketing coordinator and a head lifeguard.
Other capital improvement projects budgeted for 2022 include $500,000 to design and engineer the extension of Adams Avenue and $60,000 for a fiber-optic installation to improve connectivity between town facilities.
Council unanimously passed the changes to the 2021 budget on first reading and unanimously voted to adopt the 2021 budget on first reading, too. Both will go to second reading with the council at its Nov. 10 meeting.
“This really is a team effort,” Kennedy said about creating the budget. “I get up here, and I get to talk about all the fun stuff that we’re doing, but I’m not the one that’s out there driving the plows and making this stuff happen. We’re just trying to work together to make a plan for the community.”
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