2013-2014 Budget Development
Early work on 2013-14 budget development included look at open space, stormwater needs
Development of Westminster’s 2013-14 budget began with an initial public meeting on June 11, 2012 during the regular meeting of Westminster City Council.
The long-term needs of the city’s open space acquisition program and the increasing demands on the stormwater fund were two issues under consideration by council that were reviewed at the June 11, 2012 meeting. This meeting was designed to examine potential budget issues early in the 2013-14 budget process, allowing early community budget input, which continued over the course of the summer and into the fall.
Faced with tight revenues and increasing costs, the city continues to focus on its core service level delivery to guide decisions in the budget development process. Part of that process includes an annual review of projected changes in the level of service provided by the city.
Based on departmental reviews, several potential impacts to service were identified and reviewed by City Council during a May 14, 2012 post City Council meeting. These ranged from additional staffing at The MAC to ongoing street maintenance needs to water conservation program modifications, but three of those issues - open space, stormwater and recycling - were identified to bring to the public meeting for additional discussion and input.
Read complete details of the service analysis here.
View the June 11, 2012 presentation on the budget.
View the Sept. 10, 2012 presentation on the budget.
View the Sept. 17, 2012 presentation on the budget.
View the Sept. 17, 2012 presentation on citizen budget requests
Open Space Acquisition Program
Funds from the most recent bond sale in 2007 will likely be depleted in 2012, leaving limited revenues for open space acquisition. The city has a long-stated goal of securing 15 percent of land within the city as open space. By the end of 2012, the city’s open space portfolio is projected to include 3,000 acres (13.9 percent of total land area).
There are several short- and long-term funding options that could be explored to acquire additional open space, including use of public land dedication funds, additional bonding and asking voters to remove the sunset for the parks, open space and trails sales tax. Council will also consider whether the 15 percent goal is attainable or whether limited funds should be prioritized on key acquisitions to connect existing open space parcels and trails.
Also up for discussion is the growing maintenance demand for existing open space property, including noxious weed removal, re-vegetation and other needs.
Stormwater Utility Fee Increase
The Stormwater Utility Fee is currently $3/month for single-family residences. Council is evaluating whether to increase the fee by $1/month per year for three years, commencing in 2014, ultimately increasing the fee to $6/month in 2016. This fee increase would help address the city’s prioritized list of 87 stormwater capital improvement projects, estimated to cost $74 million.
Additional revenues will also be needed to pay for increasing regulatory costs from the state and federal levels. Currently, the state of Colorado is in the process of adopting a regulation on nutrient criteria. There is the potential that actual in-stream monitoring and water quality sampling will be required in later years (2014+) and rough estimates show that each monitoring location would cost between $15,000 and $25,000 on an annual basis. In addition, the EPA is considering new regulations that would include greater monitoring and facility requirements. Costs for these requirements could easily be tens of thousands of dollars a year depending on how prescriptive the requirements become.
As of March 2012, the average monthly fee that local jurisdictions charge is $5.77. Westminster’s stormwater fee currently ranks 13th out of the 16 Front Range cities that charge a stormwater fee (fourth lowest).
Based on feedback of the level of service analyses from City Council, staff will proceed with researching the proposed changes and developing the 2013-14 budget. Staff will return to City Council throughout the summer, providing updates and additional information on these and other budget-related items.
Community Recycling Program
Staff has been working with the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) and held focus groups over the last few years in an effort to identify recommendations to bring to City Council concerning community drop-off locations, recycling education, possible code changes, etc.
The City Green Team (staff) and the EAB conducted a thorough review of recycling and trash collection in the community and identified potential improvement opportunities.
As a result of this research, a robust community education and engagement process was utilized to identify improvements that staff believes reflect the needs of the community and key stakeholders
Improvements under consideration include:
1. Consider consolidating the four current unstaffed community drop-off recycling locations and provide limited staffing and improvements to a central, consolidated drop-off location.
2. Enhance recycling education and outreach.
3. Modify the Westminster Municipal Code (i.e., increase opportunities for residential curbside recycling, increase opportunities for business recycling, modify trash hauler recycling reporting, and eliminate restrictions on days of the week trash collection requirements).
Citizens provided feedback at public meetings on the proposed 2013-14 budget on June 11, 2012 and July 23, 2012, and the final public hearing on Sept. 10, 2012.