Smith Ranch, Cottonwood Shop top list of Silverthorne’s 2018 capital projects |

Smith Ranch, Cottonwood Shop top list of Silverthorne’s 2018 capital projects

Work is underway on a new Silverthorne Public Works building along the Blue River Parkway, just north of Silverthorne Elementary School, in northern Silverthorne. The $8.6 million project is one of a handful included in the 2018 budget.
Eli Pace / |

Silverthorne Town Council voted unanimously on first readings Wednesday to set rate increases for its water and sewer fees and amend the town’s 2018 budget, a document that features roughly $36 million in expenditures and highlights a number of local projects slated for 2018.

Silverthorne operates on a biennial-budgetary process, and in the second year of its two-year budget, much of the heavy lifting had been done coming into Wednesday night’s council meeting.

With that in mind, council moved quickly as town staff presented a brief budget overview, walked through a number of its highlights and proposed amendments and offered up a larger picture of Silverthorne’s financial health.

It’s no secret the town is heavily dependent on sales tax revenue with sales tax receipts accounting for roughly 70 percent of the general and capital-improvement project funds. Together, those two funds account for the bulk of Silverthorne’s spending.

Town staff are conservatively planning for a 2 percent increase in sales tax revenue next year over 2017 totals, well below the level of growth Silverthorne has seen so far this year.

According to the town, all of Silverthorne’s budgets for operational funds are balanced, and its $13 million general fund is projected to increase by $241,000 as the town adds two full-time staff members, offers employees merit-based pay increases and provides some additional funding for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company.

In the general fund, costs related to personnel are forecasted to increase by 4.1 percent — almost $350,000 — compared to 2017. Much of that will go to cover salaries for a new evidence technician and a community service officer, both for the Public Safety Department, in addition to converting two part-time jobs into three-quarters time and the hiring of a seasonal parks employee.

The general fund includes money for workers to receive merit-based salary increases of 3 percent on average at a cost of approximately $262,000 to the town. The pay hikes will range from 0-5 percent individually, based on an employee’s performance and his or her starting date.

With a five-month surplus in the town’s health insurance liability account, no increases in health insurance premiums are included in the 2018 budget.

However, the 2018 budget does include an $800,000 transfer to the town’s capital-improvement project fund for an anticipated property acquisition.

The budget also reflects an overall decrease of fund balances in the amount of $7.2 million, which is largely attributed to a one-time capital project — construction of the Public Works Department’s Cottonwood Shop on Blue River Parkway near Silverthorne Elementary — that’s expected to be complete in 2018.

The town has secured a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the Cottonwood Shop, and Silverthorne won’t have to take on any new debt for the new $8.6 million facility that, once complete, will house all Utilities Department operations, the town’s Fleet Maintenance Department and allow for future expansion of Public Works operations in line with town growth.

Also, development of the Smith Ranch residential property, which is to feature 180-200 new affordable-housing units, is scheduled to begin in 2018, and that too is having an effect.

While the project at Smith Ranch will take years to finish, infrastructure and other development expenses are projected to reduce the town’s 5A Affordable Housing Fund by about $1.7 million. Once the neighborhood reaches the point where it requires snow plowing, police patrols and other town services, the town will need to consider appropriate staffing levels and sources of funding, according to town officials.

Still, Silverthorne remains in a strong financial position, according to finance officials, but “the need for additional resources is apparent when considering the impending call for increased services levels and numerous capital projects, which are under consideration but unfunded.”

Water, Sewer fee hikes

In addition to voting in favor of an amended 2018 budget on first reading, council also unanimously supported an ordinance calling for $200 increases in the water and sewer tap fees, currently set at $7,600 for water and $6,200 for sewer per equivalent residential unit (EQR).

The ordinance also includes a 2 percent increase of sewer-user fees, bumping the current flat quarterly rate of $97.75 up to $99.69 per EQR. Additionally, a sewer-opportunity fee assessed as part of the annexation process is set up for an automatic $50 increase, bringing it up to $2,400 per EQR.

Town council had the option of adding or deleting any of the proposed fees, but went with town staff recommendations, who described the rate hikes as standard in keeping up with rising costs and inflation. If passed on second reading, the changes will take effect Jan. 1.

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