Strong sales tax boosts Winter Park budget
With a $28 million budget to be approved for 2022, Winter Park will continue investing in workforce housing, public transit and town employees.
Revenue for next year is projected to exceed $34 million with the town forecasting a 4% sales tax increase over 2021’s revenue, Winter Park Finance Director Lizbeth Lemley said. Additionally, the booming real estate market will result in an increase of real estate transfer and assessment taxes, which benefits the town’s affordable housing fund.
So far this year, sales tax collections reached new records, beating the previous highest collection in 2019 by 13% as of September. Lodging taxes have also improved, which Lemley credits in part to short-term rental companies like Airbnb and VRBO.
Town reserves are also in a healthy position with the general fund having more than $6.5 million set aside.
“We are going into 2022 in a very strong position,” Lemley said.
Winter Park’s town council prioritized capital projects and equipment replacement, with $6.8 million worth of work outlined in the budget.
Of the incoming revenue, $1.6 million will be used to construct 20 new deed-restricted single-family homes in Hideaway Junction, as well as neighborhood improvements. Additional housing expenditures consist of $75,000 for a regional housing authority and $325,000 for potentially extending the Short Term Fix program, which buys leases for workforce housing.
Another $1 million is dedicated to design and construction of the transit maintenance facility. Debt service payments and issuance costs for the Hideaway Place, the transit maintenance facility and the recently completed public works facility amount to $2.7 million.
Equipment replacements will cost $1.6 million, which includes new buses, police vehicles, a plow and an admin car. Other big spends include $500,000 for a downtown master plan, $400,000 for asphalt and road repairs, $300,000 for land acquisition and $275,000 for parking garage improvements.
Winter Park also budgeted for a 9% wage increase for staff and hopes to bring on three new employees, including a code enforcement officer, a custodian and a sustainability intern. The town will split the cost of a code enforcement officer with Fraser and a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs will partially fund the intern position.
The town council will approve the final budget at the Dec. 7 meeting following a public hearing.
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