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Town of Breckenridge to lift two year pay-raise freeze

CADDIE NATH
summit daily news

The 2011 Breckenridge town budget will end a two-year hold on pay-raises for town employees, allowing staff to earn up to 3 percent merit-based pay increases next year.

“Our staff has done a lot of work with not only less money, but less people,” Councilman Eric Mamula said. “The people that work for the town are doing more work than they used to with the same amount of money that they’ve had for the last couple years.”

Lifting the pay freeze was approved on the condition that other cuts to the payroll budget compensate so there was no net impact on the budget, Mamula said.

Next year’s budget, in its current form, also includes $339,000 in permanent staffing and wage cuts. The personnel reductions could result in lay-offs, although the town has not determined exactly how the cuts will be structured, town spokeswoman Kim DiLallo said.

“We as senior staff … are trying to come up with some creative solutions,” DiLallo said. “Really the last thing we want to do is lay anybody off. We really value our staff here, so we’re trying to uncover every creative way that we can … achieve those staffing reductions.”

The Town of Breckenridge has not had to lay off staff in the last 10 years. Staffing decreases in recent years have been implemented by eliminating positions vacated voluntarily.

The new staffing cuts are in addition to $1.4 million in continuing temporary cuts made since 2008.

Four summer routes on the Breckenridge Free Ride will also be eliminated next year as part of budget decreases. The town’s current plan is to discontinue service on the black, orange, brown and gray routes starting April 30 through the summer season. The purple and yellow routes will continue to run on one-hour schedules. The yellow route will run from Colorado Mountain College to Beaver Run, while the purple route, which serves the French Creek, Vista point and Wellington neighborhoods, will remain unchanged.

Town representatives found that fewer people use the Free Ride services in the summertime, as biking and walking become more popular modes of transportation during the warmer months.

“It was a difficult decision to make for the town and we hope to reverse it as soon as the economy gets back in full swing,” Mamula said.

The decision to scale back summer Free Ride services was determined to be one of the lower impact options.

“We’re trying to make (the budget cuts) as painless as possible,” DiLallo said.

The budget will also redirect $150,000 from the capital fund to the open space fund to cover landscaping improvements along the Blue River and allocate $150,000 to the capital improvement plan for sidewalks on Airport Road.

In its current form, the 2011 budget represents a total 1 percent increase from the 2010 budget, which reflects a 1 percent projected revenue increase next year.

“We’re thinking that sales are going to be a little bit better, we think that rent’s going to be a little bit better,” Mamula said. “We think everything’s just going to be a tad bit better. So all in all the council thinks that a very modest 1 percent increase isn’t asking too much.”

The Breckenridge Town Council presented the budget in a public hearing Tuesday. Another public hearing will be held Nov. 23, after which the budget will be finalized. Breckenridge residents can make comments on the budget at the hearing, in person at the town finance department or by e-mail to the town council or the mayor from the town’s website. DiLallo said public comments and suggestions will be incorporated into the budget to the extent possible.

SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at cnath@summitdaily.com


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