Town of Winter Park 2009 budget projects revenue will drop 11 percent |

Town of Winter Park 2009 budget projects revenue will drop 11 percent

Will Bublitz
Grand County, Colorado

Due to the nationwide economic downturn, the Town of Winter Park, Colorado, has done some belt-tightening in next year’s budget, though officials want to assure residents that core services will remain unchanged.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Winter Park Town Council unanimously approved the town’s 2009 budget.

“This is a conservative budget,” said Drew Nelson, Winter Park’s interim town manager. “The key thing is that it is a balanced budget.”

The town designed next year’s budget with the expectation that total revenues would drop in 2009 by about 11 percent. That amounts to $840,000 less than will be going into its coffers this year.

“We based these projections on current trending as well as looking at various economic forecasts and anticipated changes in the local business environment,” said Financial Director Shawn Cordsen.

About 50 percent of the town’s revenues are from sales taxes. Cordsen explained the town has seen a 7 percent drop in sales tax revenues from 2007 to 2008, with the bulk of that decline coming in the second half of this year.

“We’re anticipating an additional 5 percent decline in revenues for sales taxes in 2009,” Cordsen said. “But we also expect some other revenue sources to go down next year.”

In formulating the budget, the town is predicting a further drop in revenue from real estate transfer taxes.

“We anticipate a 47 percent decrease in that source from 2008 to 2009,” Cordsen said. “That’s pretty significant. The real estate market is the hardest hit place in our local economy in recent months. Our projection for this revenue next year is based on historical trending, market forecasts as well as anticipated development and growth.”

Although these revenue sources are predicted to see a decline, Cordsen said the town is confident that its property tax and ownership tax revenues will remain “stable.”

Because its overall income is expected to go down, the town also plans to spend less in 2009. Next year’s budget has expenditures totaling $7 million compared with $7.6 million in 2007.

The town’s 2009 expenditures will also be considerably less than this year’s total of $10.7 million. The reason for that jump in spending in 2008 was due to the redevelopment of Hideaway Park, which is a costing about $4 million.

While the town is cutting back on spending in 2009, town officials emphasize that services will not be affected.

“We’re not cutting back on any services for next year,” Cordsen said.

Nelson agreed, saying the town has no plans to reduce what it has provided in the past.

“Because of our fiscal prudence over the past few years, Winter Park’s residents and guests should see no impact on the core services provided by the town,” Nelson said. “In some cases, we will actually increase some services to the public.”

One of these new services is winter programming for Hideaway Park once it officially opens later this month. He said Winter Park is also purchasing a new, more efficient snowplow truck as well as a portable message board that can be placed on the town’s main street to make announcements.

In addition, town officials plan to complete a couple capital improvement projects in 2009. These include the construction work at the skate park, which is part of Hideaway Park. Also planned is the installation of town utilities at Lions Gate, which Nelson explained the town intends to accomplish by “piggybacking” on work being done by the developer.

While the Town of Winter Park built next year’s budget in anticipation of falling revenues, Nelson and Cordsen still say they have hopes that the economy may improve and their predictions will be proved wrong.

“Hopefully, we’ll get lots of snow this winter and plenty of skiers,” Nelson said. “We didn’t build this budget while looking through rose-colored glasses, but we’re still optimistic that things could turn around.”

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