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2015-2016 Budget Development

View the 2015-16 budget presentation from the June 9 City Council meeting

View the May 5, 2014 Staff Report (City Services’ Level of Service Review in Preparation of the Proposed 2015/2016 Budget)

Proposed 2015/2016 Budget Development Underway; Programmatic Changes Proposed

The city adopts a two-year budget and is in the process of developing the proposed 2015/2016 budget for City Council consideration in September. 

In February, staff commenced a service analysis of some of the city’s programs and services, which supports City Council’s Strategic Plan goal for Excellence in City Services.

Staff has completed the initial analyses and three of the programs/services evaluated will be highlighted for the public at the June 9, 2014 City Council meeting.

These analyses are intended to look forward to 2015/2016 service demands, evaluate current funding levels and determine if modifications might be needed given the city’s limited resources (both financial and staffing) and priorities based on City Council’s Strategic Plan.

This information is intended to provide City Council and the public an opportunity earlier in the budget development process to provide direction on whether staff should proceed with additional analysis of the proposed programmatic level of service changes and/or proposed reallocations of resources and bring these back for City Council’s further review and final determination during the budget review process.

The following items are service areas with proposed modifications for 2015/2016:

1. Enhanced Mobility and Connectivity Master Plan and Pilot Project in 2015/2016 (Public Works & Utilities, Community Development and Parks, Recreation & Libraries Departments) – While enhanced mobility and connectivity is an important component to ongoing planning and project implementation citywide, overarching guidance could be enhanced. Staff is evaluating the development of a master plan for the city to enhance mobility for citizens, businesses and visitors, and improve the connectivity in the city. From this master plan, staff could implement pilot projects concurrent with the preparation of the master plan to test concepts, illustrate solutions, and provide tangible results for citizens and residents seeking enhanced mobility and connectivity throughout the city. Opportunities exist to enhance access to city services and facilities by looking at how they are connected. The plan could examine and recommend improvements for how the city’s street, recreational trails, bicycle routes, pedestrian networks and public spaces connect to each other, and how they connect to city services and facilities, such as open space trail heads, recreation centers, and libraries. Access for all users, regardless of abilities, could be examined, promoting healthy and safe transportation modes and positive experiences. (net estimated change: +$50,000-$125,000)

2. Return Animal Management service levels with the return of an Animal Management Officer in 2015 (Police Department) – Due to budget reductions and the associated reduction in force in 2010, the animal management unit was reduced by 1 full-time employee. With this staffing reduction, the city reduced animal management service hours, discontinued public education events, eliminated responses to wildlife calls, and eliminated the collection of deceased wildlife on private property. Calls for animal management services have increased by 5.8 percent since the full-time reduction and calls that require increased investigative time (i.e., animal neglect/cruelty, vicious animals and dog/cat bites) have steadily grown by 28 percent since 2010. Since the staffing reduction, the percentage of dog licenses sold has declined as well. In 2011, Westminster saw a 23 percent licensing compliance rate. The current figure is 21 percent and the current intergovernmental agreement with Jefferson County requires a 20 percent licensing ratio. Failure to meet that threshold will result in additional costs to the city. Another observed impact is reduced time for supervisory and administrative duties. The current animal management unit is comprised of 3.5 full-time animal management officers and 1 full-time supervisor. The supervisor works 15 percent of the time on front line functions during a normal week and 80 percent during a week when an animal management officer is attending court, in training, on vacation, ill, etc. Other effects of the reduced workforce include a decrease of proactive enforcement efforts, reduced support for the patrol division, increased overtime expenses and a reduced ability to staff vaccination clinics. Based on these impacts, staff is evaluating the possibility of adding the 1 full-time animal management officer to the animal management unit to improve service levels to the community. (net estimated change: +$40,000 plus benefits; +1 full-time employee)

3. Enhanced Open Space Maintenance with the addition of a Maintenance Crew in 2016 (Parks, Recreation & Libraries Department) – The city is within 1 percent of reaching the 15 percent goal set in 1985 when the Westminster residents approved the first open space sales tax, making Westminster the second city in Colorado, after Boulder, to establish an open space program funded by municipal sales tax. Since 1985, the 0.25 percent sales tax has been extended by voters three times: once in 1989 with half of sales tax revenues dedicated to parks and recreation improvements; again in 1996 when voters also authorized the issuance of $26 million of bonds to fund additional open space purchases, recreation facility construction and park development; and most recently, in 2006, voters approved an additional bond sale of up to $20 million and authorized the use of the ongoing POST sales tax funds to also pay for maintenance of open space, parkland, trails and recreational facilities. Over the almost 29 years, the city has made significant strides in preserving natural lands in the community (over 3,063 acres) and constructing recreation amenities. Open space has been acquired to protect view corridors, provide buffers between development zones, protect sensitive wildlife habitat, preserve open rural landscapes, protect creek and irrigation canal corridors and for use as trail corridors and passive recreational opportunities. 

While the city has been successful in working towards the 15 percent open space goal, the city has not as aggressively pursued ongoing management of this substantial community asset. As reported to City Council in December 2011, the majority of POST Fund’s Park Services Division budget is utilized for returning newly acquired open space properties to their original native state, adding the signature open space signage and fencing where appropriate, coordinating open space volunteer events (which include materials for trails, bridges, Russian olive tree removal, etc.), addressing prairie dog vegetation destruction and restoring open space lands, and ongoing open space maintenance. However, efforts have been mostly been focused on the initial returning newly acquired properties to their original native state and then being primarily reactive in the management of the open space properties, working to repair damaged open space areas from prairie dogs, invasive weeds or other damage occurs.

Staff recommends a shift in the open space program, working towards more a proactive open space management program and a more strategic land acquisition program focusing on critical corridors to help connect community and regional trails. With the development of a comprehensive open space management plan in progress, staff is evaluating the addition of a new open space maintenance crew in 2016, including 1 full-time trails coordinator, 1 full-time horticultural specialist and 2 full-time park workers. The current open space staffing level is not sufficient to provide a comprehensive, pro-active management program. The Open Space Management Plan is being created to assess the needs and identify strategies for management resources.  This document will address desired level of service, resource needs, funding options, etc.; however, initial findings have indicated that the four positions under evaluation would help the city address ongoing maintenance needs in a more proactive manner. The crew will require additional vehicles and equipment totaling approximately $190,000 to be most effective. The biennial Citizen Survey demonstrated that citizens of Westminster regard the city’s open space program as one of the top reasons they chose Westminster as their place to reside. This crew is being evaluated for 2016, when part of the Parks, Open Space and Trails (POST) debt is paid off, freeing up funding for maintenance; this crew would be budgeted within the POST Fund. (net estimated change in 2016: +$340,000 plus benefits (including vehicles); +4 full-time employees)

Provide Feedback  

  • Public meetings - June 9, July 28 and Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at Westminster City Hall.
  • Phone (303-658-2006), email (westycmo@cityofwestminster.us) and mail (c/o City Manager’s Office, 4800 W. 92nd Ave., Westminster, 80031).
  • Access Westminster - submit your input under City Finances.
  • Social media - Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@westminsterco) and give us your input on the budget.
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