The City of Delta is managing its finances extremely well, the Citizen Financial Task Force (CFTF) concluded after meeting with department heads on several occasions since last spring.
The formation of a Citizen Financial Task Force was proposed by former city manager Joe Kerby during the budget process last fall. With flat revenues, the city has seen its fund balance drop for several consecutive years.
Without a change in direction, the fund balance will continue to drop below the $1 million level Kerby believes should be maintained.
At a work session last week, CFTF spokesman David Lane thanked the city council for doing a great job. But they also made the task force's job difficult, because they've already frozen salaries and trimmed the fat. "They've done a marvelous job," Lane said.
Despite the city's efforts to contain costs, increases in expenditures are outpacing a revenue stream that's limited by TABOR and a slow economy.
"Public safety, police, rec center . . . everything you guys do for the citizens of Delta costs more money," Lane said.
Task force members concluded that if expenses can't be cut any further, income will have to be increased, likely through a tax of some kind.
To identify possible sources of additional revenue, the CFTF is requesting $20,000 be budgeted in 2013 to cover the cost of a professional survey to assess what type of tax would be most acceptable. The two ideas tossed around by the CFTF were a hotel/bed tax and an extension of the temporary sales tax currently allocated to rec center operations and construction. Either proposal would have to be approved by voters, and CFTF would like some indication of citizen preference before they recommend spending $9,000 on a ballot question.
"There's an opportunity to explore a bunch of options and that's what the upshot is of getting a professional consultant," Lane said.
The possibility of obtaining a grant to cover the cost of the survey was discussed. In the end it was decided the money should be budgeted, then a grant pursued.
"We're already in a bind to try to finance what we've got going now," said councilmember Bill Raley. "To add $20,000 more just adds to the pile. I'm more of a mind for cutting than adding."
Other council members agreed with acting city manager Glen Black's assessment that the survey would be an "investment."
"If we can bring forward some kind of ballot issue that would generate more revenue, this would be a pretty good investment," Black said.
Councilmember Robert Jurca said the survey is overdue, while Mayor Ed Sisson questioned whether the city would recoup its investment. He apparently doubts the value of the money spent for the golf course assessment and for the downtown revitalization effort.
That opened discussion of the Community Revitalization Partnership which was launched in 2010. The only tangible result of that effort, which originally involved several focus groups, was an ordinance which gives preference to local bidders. A second project, a Renaissance Fair in the city's Cottonwood Park, failed to gain traction because organizers and the city could not come to terms on use of the park. Banners were purchased for Delta's Main Street in partnership with Delta County Tourism.
Other ideas for marketing, special events and streetscapes would have required a source of revenue such as a business improvement district, a lodging tax or a percentage of the city sales tax — the same revenue sources targeted by the Citizen Financial Task Force. Downtown revitalization stalled "because we were going down two similar paths" while the CFTF continued to move forward, Black said.
Councilmember Bill Raley said there was also a lack of interest from Main Street merchants, and for that reason he recommended the $10,000 intended for CRP in 2013 be removed from the budget. A similar amount was budgeted in 2012, but only half has been spent.
The Citizen Financial Task Force is comprised of Linda Sanchez, Kay Carlquist, Jo Rosenquist, Thelma Starner, David Lane, Dennis Phillips, Vicki Ripp, Bill Hellman, Brad Kolman, Chalmer Swain and Fay Mathews.
Rosenquist said they do not believe their work is done, and they're looking forward to working with new city manager Justin Clifton to further explore ideas for reducing expenditures and increasing revenue.blog comments powered by Disqus