Avon Town Council holds second hearing for the 2023 budget
Public is invited to weigh in on capital improvements and other budgetary items at the Avon Town Council meeting this Tuesday
The second of three public hearings for the approval of the Town of Avon 2023 Budget is taking place this Tuesday, Nov. 15. Community members are invited to weigh in on spending priorities and provide feedback before the final adoption of the budget on Dec. 13.
According to a draft of the 2023 proposed budget, the town’s overall operating revenue is expected to stay consistent with that of 2022 at $40.7 million, up slightly from this year’s $40.2 million due to an anticipated increase in sales tax revenue.
The general fund expenditure will go up by around $2.5 million, $439,169 of which will go toward financing five new staff positions. Three of the positions are full-time, including a program supervisor and aquatics coordinator for the recreation center and a new building technician.
The proposed budget is also calling for a partial-year geographic information services manager to develop a mapping system for town assets and services and a partial-year-long range planner to help with the formation of the Downtown Development Authority.
The Community Housing Fund, which is funded by the 2% short-term rental tax, has budgeted $2.6 million in spending for 2023, nearly half of which will go toward the expansion of the Mi Casa Deed Restriction Program. The other half will fund continued work on potential housing development at Swift Gulch, the East Avon Parcel and Tract Y.
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Total fund balances will drop from $36.5 million at the start of 2023 to $27 million by the end, due largely to an increase in expenditures from the capital improvement fund, but town manager Eric Heil said the town remains in good financial shape.
“The revised budget presented is still very conservative and considers the current economic uncertainty yet still allows for funding of council’s goals and priorities related to growth and development, more specifically in the areas of community housing, sustainability, long-range planning, recreation, operations, and police,” Heil wrote in the Nov. 8 budget proposal.
Expanding capital improvements
This Tuesday, the Avon Town Council will be discussing capital improvement projects for 2023. Almost a third of the total proposed expenditures in 2023 will go toward capital improvements next year, up from less than a quarter in 2022.
The proposed budget allocates $12.3 million to capital improvement projects, including $9.1 million to maintain existing facilities and $3.9 for new projects and expansions. This funding comes from the Capital Improvement Fund, which is primarily supported by the real estate transfer tax.
The most expensive item on the proposed 2023 capital improvement budget is $2.2 million allocated for the construction of a roundabout at the Stonebridge and US-6 intersection, followed by $2 million to move forward on the construction of a new public restroom on the eastern side of Nottingham Park.
Apart from these large projects, the majority of capital spending will go toward road maintenance. Fawcett Road, West Beaver Creek Boulevard from US-6 to Avon Elementary School and the upper section of Buck Creek Road are scheduled for construction in 2023. Parts of Swift Gulch Road and Old Trail Road will be designed in 2023 and built in 2024.
The Town Council will discuss the prioritization of capital projects as currently budgeted, but Heil noted that costs and planning will need to be flexible and readdressed in 2023 due to the volatility of the economy.
“The proposed Capital Improvement Projects still need more work,” Heil wrote in the Town Council report. “Specific projects are more in flux this year due to dramatic increases in construction costs, shifting prioritization on certain repairs like recreation trail railing maintenance and deleting broadband improvements, uncertainty of timing and cost due to planning, design and cost estimating for some projects.”
A full breakdown of all 2023 proposed capital improvement projects is available for review on the town website.
Cutting back on special event spending
The Culture, Arts and Special Events committee proposed a 36.4% budget increase for summer special event programming but Town Council members have decided to move in the opposite direction. Instead, the 2023 proposed budget would cut the special events budget by $359,450.
This budget cut will be achieved primarily by eliminating the special events production assistant position, eliminating the Heart & Soul musical festival that soft-launched this fall and eliminating the Summer’s End concert.
During a Town Council meeting on Oct. 25, council members supported a change in strategy from using special events to attract outside visitors to invest more in high-quality, community-focused experiences such as AvonLIVE! and avoiding overlap with other local events.
“There was Council consensus to offer events with a community focus that would attract more modest attendance as well as rethink the proposed new events that would likely conflict with other events offered during those time frames,” Heil wrote in the Nov. 8 budget proposal.
The budget proposal notes that the council and staff will continue to work with CASE to develop a strategic plan that better reflects these priorities and stays within current budget constraints.
The Nov. 15 Town Council meeting will take place at 5 p.m. at Avon Town Hall. To participate virtually, register online via Zoom at Avon.org.