BOT special meeting approves 2014 Budget

Pam North – Nederland

Share in the magic of the mountainsThe Nederland Board of Trustees (BOT) convened for a special meeting on Tuesday evening, December 10 at 6:00 p.m.. Members present were Mayor pro tem Kevin Mueller; Trustees Chris Perret, Ledge Long, Randy Lee, Peter Fiori, and Annette Croughwell. Mayor Joe Gierlach,was absent. Also in attendance were Town Administrator Alisha Reis, Town Treasurer Eva Forberger, Town Clerk Michele Martin, and Town Attorney Carmen Beery.

Repealing Resolution 2013-17: Adoption of the 2013 Mill Levy for 2014 (DDA & Town).

The budget appropriations must be passed prior to the mill levy. State statutes require the Board to adopt a budget prior to certification of the mill levy. CRS 29-1-108(2) and (3) state that if a governing body fails to adopt a budget prior to certification of the levy, then 90% of the amounts appropriated in the current fiscal year for operation and maintenance expenses shall be deemed re-appropriated for the purposes specified in such last appropriation ordinance or resolution.

The Board of Trustees had to repeal the original resolution passing the mill levy, then pass the 2014 Budget and Appropriations Resolution, and then pass a resolution for the mill levy. At the December 3 BOT meeting, Resolution 2013-17, Adoption of the 2013 mill levy for 2014 (DDA & Town) was passed. However, Resolution 2013-16, Adoption of the 2014 Budget and Appropriations was not passed, so the mill levy resolution had to be repealed. The Board approved that action unanimously, and then moved on to the budget.

Resolution 2013-16: Adoption of the 2014 Budget and Appropriations
Every year, the Town of Nederland must propose an annual Budget based on anticipated revenues and expenses, and pass the mill levy for property taxes based on the assessed valuation of all property from Boulder County.

After numerous meetings with department heads and two workshops with the Board of Trustees, Town staff had provided a budget presentation to the public at the October 15 Board of Trustees meeting. After the presentation, there was some public comment asking how the 2014 Budget addressed sustainability for the Town. The Board of Trustees identified a list of goals in June of this year that included sustainability. Additional funding was also earmarked for this purpose.

Since the presentation on October 15, the 2014 draft budget was posted on the Town’s website for public comment; no comments were received. Some minor changes to the budget should be noted:  additional CIP ($30,000) was added to cover planning and engineering work for the Public Works shop, and $8,000 was added to cover implementation of action items from the Sustainable Action Plan put together by the contract sustainability coordinator.

Staff Bonus Appropriation

An additional Staff Bonus Appropriation change to Budget also had been suggested at the December 3 meeting by Mayor Joe Gierlach, who felt that revenues would be higher than anticipated. He proposed that an additional amount of $10,000 to $20,000 be added as a line item to the budget to be used for appreciation bonuses for Town employees. The bonuses would be given when employees found ways to increase revenues, decrease expenditures, or meet specified Town goals.

The Trustees discussed the pros and cons of the proposal, and what amount should be specified if the line item were to be added. No agreement was reached, and at 10:30 p.m. the Trustees had voted not to approve a motion to continue the meeting to 11:00 p.m. to discuss it further, leaving the 2014 budget not approved.

Mayor Gierlach’s proposal again was submitted for consideration as part of the December 10 meeting. “An employee incentive plan is ideal for such a line item because it occurs at the end of the fiscal year, and can be spent for different amounts without affecting the core of operations. The Board of Trustees have indicated that an incentive plan is desirable for several policy reasons, but is unwilling to make cuts to the existing budget in order to fund such a plan.”

Typically, the Town Administrator submits a balanced budget to the Board of  Trustees and the BOT approves the budget along with the Appropriation Resolution. Expenditures may not exceed the appropriation per state statute. Therefore, the BOT would need to increase the appropriation in order to allow for the additional expenditure, in the event that revenue exceeds the budgeted amount, and the line item is triggered. Once the appropriation has been approved by the BOT, the line item is created and the funds are available.

“This is a policy choice of the BOT to create an employee incentive plan without making cuts to the existing budget, which is only triggered if revenues exceed the original proposed budget. Having an employee incentive plan has many benefits, including reducing turnover, increasing productivity, improving morale, and achieving the goals set by the BOT.  An employee incentive plan can also increase employee accountability and continuous improvement is necessary for the long term sustainability of the Town as an organization.”

After lengthy discussion on that topic, the Board members heard Trustee Peter Fiori’s and Mayor pro tem Kevin Mueller’s objections to the finalized 2014 budget. Trustee Mueller presented a long narrative on sustainability points that he felt should have been included in the 2014 budget. An unfinished motion from Trustee Fiori, that had been delayed by Mayor pro tem Mueller’s turn to speak, was accidentally overlooked for completion, when Trustee Annette Croughwell made a motion to approve the 2014 budget as written, and the Board members voted 4 to 2 to approve it, with Mayor pro tem Mueller and Trustee Fiori voting against.

The two dissenting Board members were asked after the meeting why they had not voted to approve the 2014 budget. Mayor pro tem Mueller said: “I felt that he budget failed to include previously recommended measures that would reduce our operating costs and dependence on nonrenewable resources, such as committing to reduce electrical and gas consumption at the Community Center. The budget also failed to include previously recommended measures that demonstrate our desire to achieve the community’s goal of becoming resilient, self-sufficient, more educated and sustainable—like hiring a biologist and ecologist to develop ecosystem functionality improvements as part of our Master Infrastructure Plan. I also voted no because the budget’s priorities are not in line with our policies of doing more with less, and fixing what we have first, such as prioritizing a new 4th crossing of Middle Boulder Creek ahead of fixing our existing paths and designing a new Town shop ahead of optimizing our water treatment facilities.”

Trustee Peter Fiori also voiced his objection to the 2014 budget: “I wanted an appropriation of $10,000 to provide an incentive program for Town staff to bring forth better plans that would mesh with the Envision 2020 Statement, which is what our citizens want in order to reach sustainability and zero waste. In my opinion the Envision 2020 is the citizens giving us an outline to write policy.”

Resolution 2013-19: Adoption of the 2013 Mill Levy for 2014 (DDA & Town)

The amount of money necessary to fund the Town of Nederland budget for general operating purposes including bonds and interest, is $1,180,000 and the amount of money necessary to fund the Nederland Downtown Development Authority operating budget is $28,460. The 2013 net assessed valuation for the Town of Nederland as certified by the Boulder County Assessor is $21,221,717; and the 2013 combined base and incremental assessed valuation of the Nederland Downtown Development Authority as certified by the Boulder County Assessor is $4,929,138.

The mill levy for the Town of Nederland during the 2014 budget year is levied a gross mill levy of 17.274 mills upon each dollar of the total valuation for assessment of all taxable property within the Town of Nederland for the year 2013.

For the purpose of meeting all Nederland Downtown Development Authority expenses during the 2014 budget year, a gross mill levy of 5.0 mills upon each dollar of the total valuation for assessment of all taxable property within the Nederland Downtown Development Authority District within the Town of Nederland for the year 2013 is set.

The mill levies were approved unanimously, having been deemed to be not in excess of the amount levied for 2013 in accordance with Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution (TABOR), Section 3. Resolution 2013-19 Adoption of the 2013 Mill Levy for 2014 (DDA & Town). The Town Clerk was thereby authorized and directed to immediately certify the above mill levies for the Town of Nederland and Nederland Downtown Development Authority to the Boulder County Commissioners.
The meeting adjourned at shortly after 10:30 p.m.

The next regular meeting of the Nederland Board of Trustees will be on Tuesday, December 17, at 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center.