Revised budget remains in flux

The first revision of the city’s proposed budget for the 2020 fiscal year budget is almost $200,000 more, but that number is expected to decrease as city staff finalizes the numbers for projected expenses.

The increase was partially the result of a contingency addition to the city manager’s expenditures and more accurate estimates for lease renewals. The budget will be on the agenda for approval at the City Council meeting May 28.

At a special meeting Wednesday, April 10, staff presented the updated proposed budget to council. It includes a general fund budget of $35,553,112, which is approximately $2.2 million more than last year.

It also includes 11 new positions, three of which would cost the city money. The other positions would be covered by reduced costs with bringing projects in-house and increased revenues. Originally, there were 13 new positions, but council removed the communication and government affairs director and the city attorney’s office requested its proposed deputy city attorney position be removed.

At the beginning of the meeting, Harhay said he would like to see a written financial justification for all the new positions to ensure the residents do not feel shortchanged.

“I have no problem with the employees,” he said. “I just want to see … a financial justification for them.”

City Council did approve a new full-time position historic preservation and cultural affairs planner in a divided vote. The salary was originally set at $98,363.20 plus benefits, but staff reduced it to $82,931 plus benefits.

Councilman Kiernan McManus questioned whether the city could afford that position and said he wondered if a contract position could cover it.

“As important as I think this position is … to our community, I’m not sure a full-time position is doable for a town of 16,000,” he said.

McManus said he researched historic preservation positions and Las Vegas was the only city that had a full-time employee for it, and its population is more than 600,000 people.

Community Development Director Michael Mays said he could look at a contractor position, but the proposed job includes nonprofit support as well as historic preservation. The contractor would need to do both things.

Mayor Rod Woodbury said historic preservation is one of the city’s top five strategic goals and he understood the comparison to Las Vegas.

“On the other hand, I’m not sure we want to hold Las Vegas up as a model of historic preservation,” he said. “It isn’t.”

He added that the position will include outreach at the beginning as priorities and plans are figured out. If historic preservation is a priority for the city, the resources for it need to be provided.

“I see the value here, my question is that just because we identify a need, do we hire a full-time person for that need,” McManus asked.

Harhay and McManus voted against adding the position.

Deputy attorney position removed

“At the request of the city attorney, the deputy city attorney position was removed,” said Finance Director Diane Pelletier.

City Attorney Steve Morris previously requested the contract position for the city prosecutor job done by Gary Booker be made full time. The city attorney’s office also includes a full-time paralegal, so the new position would bring the total to three full-time employees.

According to city documents, it would have taken $72,813 from the city’s general fund for the 2020 fiscal year budget because the position would not be filled until January 2020.

The proposed yearly salary plus benefits was $145,626.39.

The other new full-time positions that increase the expenses in the proposed budget are a budget manager and two police officer positions.

Council approved keeping them in the proposal.

Other new hires include positions within the public works department to bring more projects in-house, additional firefighters and a municipal court marshal. These positions are budget neutral meaning the departments where they will be added have trimmed expenses so the costs are not more, Pelletier said.

Council also approved removing the proposed new communications and government affairs department and the re-classification of the communications manager to communication and government affairs director.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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