City Council to mull new hirings with excess 2013 revenue

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — City Council will consider making a $1.7-million budget amendment to the 2014 budget for the leftover fiscal year 2013 fund balance during its regular May 6 meeting. 

Finance Director Dan Frelund said the city had $1.9 million in excess revenues over expenses, coming from a few major activities that resulted in additional use taxes, such as building permits. He said after the necessary TABOR reserves and other requirements were met, the city was left with $1.7 million.  

City Manager Manuel Esquibel said the city has started to see fund balance over the past three years and that in 2013 the city saw a large fund balance that it had not experienced in the recent years. 

“That particular fund balance has allowed us to look at going back to the 2014 budget that you all adopted and began recognizing... there were items that were incorporated into the 2014 budget that could not be funded at the time because there was not enough revenue,” he said.

In order to determine what the city should do with the fund balance, Esquibel said they went back to the items that were included in the 2014 budget but were left unfunded. City staff are recommending $475,000 go toward transfers and reserves, $464,00 for personal services, $453,000 toward operating expenses, $302,000 for capital expenses, and $6,000 saved for future allocations. Esquibel said that of the recommendations, about 70 percent would be one-time expenses and about 30 percent would require ongoing funding. 

Among the items that would require ongoing funding would be hiring additional staff and a market rate adjustment for employees, which would cost the city an estimated $353,000. Among the nine new positions recommended are: A building inspector, code enforcement officer, city manager intern, assistant finance director, assistant procurement and contract manager, deputy city manager, finance and IT administrative assistant, a parks and maintenance worker and a community schools coordinator.

Those new positions, if the amendment is approved, would be implemented halfway through the year. Esquibel estimated that the additions would cost the city an additional $500,000 to $600,000 during the 2015 fiscal year, depending when the positions are hired. 

A market rate adjustment for employee salaries of 2 percent, if approved, would be effective Aug. 3. Council recommended the city consider an additional 1-percent market rate adjustment at the end of the year.

Proposed one-time expenses include a new street sweeper, improvements to Historic City Hall, a broadcasting system for the council’s study session, funding for the utility department’s round-up program, attorney fees for the city’s continued negotiations concerning land around Denver International Airport, as well as oil and gas attorneys, a transfer to the reserves for the city’s self-funded medical benefits program, and a $75,000 transfer to the food sales tax rebate fund. 

Staff recommended that $252,000 go toward turning the former senior center into a community center, but council members expressed mixed feelings about moving forward with the project after hearing public comment during council’s April 20 regular meeting. The city will include funding for the project in the budget amendment, but the funds would be spent at council’s discretion.