Adopted 2014 Budget Review
The 2013/2014 budget was adopted in October 2012. With the two-year budget, a mid-year budget review is conducted in preparation for the second year’s budget. Through the mid-year review, consideration of minor modifications to the second year’s budget is the focus; it is not a complete redevelopment of the budget.
In April 2013, staff commenced a service analysis of some of the city’s programs and services per City Council’s objective to “Institutionalize the core services process in budgeting and decision making” under the Financially Sustainable City Government Providing Exceptional Services goal and to kick off the mid-year budget review.
View the July 8, 2013 presentation on the 2014 mid-year budget review
View the Sept. 9, 2013 presentation on the 2013 financial status and 2014 budget overview
View the Sept. 16, 2013 presentation on the adopted 2014 budget mid-year review
View the Sept. 16, 2013 Staff Report's (Citizen's Request and Proposed 2014 Amendment)
View the Oct. 14, 2013 Agenda Memo
Staff completed the initial analyses and some of the programs/services evaluated were highlighted at the July 8, 2013 City Council meeting. These analyses were intended to look forward to 2014 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 through the mid-year review of the Adopted 2014 Budget.
This information is intended to provide City Council and the public an opportunity earlier in the mid-year budget review 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 that were considered for proposed modifications for 2014:
1. Post-Snowstorm Street Sweeping Modifications (Public Works and Utilities): Street sweeping costs continue to present the city with budget challenges. In November of 2012, staff requested bids for sweeping services for 2013 and only received one bid at over twice the amount of funds budgeted for this service. In response, staff re-bid the contract and achieved better pricing, but still at $33,846 over budget. Staff is proposing to discontinue post-snowstorm sweeping, which currently costs $76,000. In lieu of the post-snowstorm sweeping, staff proposes adding one citywide sweeping rotation, which would be performed during an appropriate time in the winter. This one rotation would cost an estimated $34,250 based on the city’s current contract. In contrast to the post-snowstorm sweeping that only touches primary and secondary snow routes, this citywide rotation would provide an additional benefit by sweeping all city streets, helping to improve appearance while addressing both the air and stormwater quality requirements. After factoring in the additional sweeping rotation, the city could receive a $41,678 savings from the discontinuation of post-snowstorm sweeping, helping to address budget pressures.
2. Increasing “in-service” availability of the reserve “fifth” ambulance (Fire Department): A “fifth” medic unit (ambulance) has been put into service for emergency response for over five years as staffing and the overtime budget has allowed utilizing a reserve ambulance unit when not needed as an actual reserve. Measureable benefits have been realized when this “fifth” medic unit is in service, most notably is a reduction in overall response times for all emergencies of over 50 seconds. Approximately 70 percent of all emergency calls the Fire Department responds to are EMS-related involving a medic unit. Staff is proposing that through a reallocation of $15,000-$20,000, the Fire Department could fund approximately 21-28 full shifts of overtime and allow for the needed staffing to operate the fifth medical unit all the time. No additional staffing is proposed; rather, staff is proposing to utilize existing FTE (full-time equivalents) through strategic use of overtime throughout the year. Command staff have discussed this proposal with the firefighters and received positive feedback.
3. Enhanced Open Space Management and More Strategic Open Space Acquisitions (Parks, Recreation & Libraries and Community Development): 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 28 years, the city has made significant strides in preserving natural lands in the community (over 2,953 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.
View the June 24, 2013 Agenda Memo outlining the Potential Program/Service Modifications Resulting from Service Analyses for the Adopted 2014 Budget in more detail.
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. Staff recommends the development of a comprehensive open space management plan that better addresses maintenance needs. Staff is proposing that efforts focus initially on the development of this comprehensive management plan and then returning with further recommendations during 2014 in preparation for the 2015/2016 Budget. Staff recommends through the mid-year budget review process that funds be identified to prepare a management plan and proceeding forward with this shift in the overall open space program (i.e., greater emphasis on maintenance and more strategic land acquisitions).
Citizens provided feedback during the public meeting on the 2014 Budget on Sept. 9, 2013.