Eagle trims budget as sales tax drops
EAGLE, Colorado – With its first quarter sales tax receipts down 10 percent compared with 2008 figures, the town of Eagle is trimming its budget and eying plans for future cuts.
Town officials released the sales tax figures earlier this month and Tuesday night discussed various budget cut possibilities if the trend continues.
So far in 2009, Eagle has collected $708,192 in sales tax. That compares to $787,695 collected during the first quarter of 2008. Food sales is the only category that recorded an increase over 2008, with a 9-percent jump.
But several other categories saw double-digit drops. Most significantly, building materials sales dropped 49 percent compared to last year while retail sales dipped 21 percent and auto repairs and parts dropped 18 percent.
Along with the sales tax drop, the town has also seen drastic reductions in fee receipts from new construction. So far in 2009, there has only been one new residential building permit issued.
Tuesday night, Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell outlined his budget cutting recommendations for members of the town board. Powell noted he has directed all town departments to reduce expenses and has decided to leave two town jobs vacant due to resignations. The first position is a town planner, the second is a police officer.
“The primary way we can save money is not filling positions,” said Powell.
But, he noted, if sales tax and building fees continue their downward trend the town will have to consider more aggressive steps.
“We don’t have the ability to reduce the budget much further without furloughs,” said Powell.
He noted that furloughs – unpaid days off for all town employees – would result in savings of $10,175 per day. It would take three furlough days to make up a 1-percent drop in sales tax receipts.
Town officials noted that furloughs would not involve a complete shutdown of town operations, but rather would be spread out in waves over several days.
Furloughing would prevent lay-offs, officials said.
Town board members voted to cut back meeting expenses as their contribution to improving the budget. Because meetings start at 6 p.m., the town has routinely supplied dinner for board members. Not any more. Board members said they will brown bag it or eat at home before coming to meetings to save a few hundred dollars each month.
While the town of Eagle looks to curtail spending for the remainder of 2009, there are a couple of areas where expenses will continue or even increase. The town will continue to spend money applying for federal stimulus money and planning improvements on Eby Creek Road.
Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski said a plan to replace aging sewer lines along Wall Street may qualify for a low interest loan form the federal stimulus program. The project could cost $1.3 million.
For 40 years, Eagle’s Community Helpline has been a living example of the axiom that giving begins at home.