Aspen sets 2010 city budget at $67 million |

Aspen sets 2010 city budget at $67 million

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Monday approved the 2010 budget, which is a 15 percent reduction over this year.

The council met several times over the past few months in an effort to balance the budget, which comes in at $67 million.

Prior budget cuts included shaving 11 percent in February, and then August brought another round of cuts to provide a framework for 2010. The two rounds of cuts involved eliminating more than two dozen positions, including layoffs, and salary freezes and the elimination of benefits for city employees.

“The city’s revenue source in 2009 experienced perhaps its biggest decline in its modern era,” wrote Finance Director Don Taylor in his memo to the council.

He added that sales taxes are down 17 percent; community development and building department revenues are down 50 percent from 2007, and use taxes are projected to be less than originally forecast.

Next year’s budget maintains the same service levels as 2009, according to Taylor.

“Most of the staffing cuts were made in areas where service-level requirements were decreased because of the economy,” Taylor wrote.

Next year’s budget assumes that sales tax will grow 1.5 percent.

The budget includes $500,000 of additional funding to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, $400,000 of which will be paid back in $100,000 increments beginning in 2011.

The money will be taken out of the city’s cash reserves, which is estimated to be $624,000 lower than what it would be at the end of 2010 as a result of the loan. The city’s policy states that the money used in the loan to the ACRA must be paid back within three years.

If the ACRA is unable to pay it back because it was unsuccessful in passing a 1 percent bed tax in a local marketing district in the future, the city would have to consider deferring capital improvement projects, borrowing money from the employee housing fund or using departmental savings to cover the loan after three years. However, the ACRA is contractually obligated to pay back the money within a certain time frame.

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