Black Hawk 2016 expenses exceed projected income

John Scarffe, Black Hawk.  The Black Hawk City Council received the final 2016 budget and set the city’s property tax mill levy during its regular meeting on Wednesday, December 9, at 3 p.m., at 211 Church Street. Black Hawk Finance Director Lance Hillis presented the resolution summarizing expenditures and revenues and adopting a 2016 budget for the City.

Hillis wrote in a budget summary that the 2016 budget includes a total revenue projection of $26.5 million for all funds and total expenditures of $40.6 million. Due to ambitious capital projects proposed or incurred for 2015 and 2016, the General Fund, Capital Projects Fund, Preservation & Restoration Fund and the Water Fund are projected to have significant deficit spending.

The $26.5 million in projected income for all funds reflects a decrease of 0.6 percent compared to the estimated revenue for 2015, Hillis wrote. “We project 2016 Gaming Tax revenue to be flat compared to 2015. Device Fee revenue is budgeted to be flat with roughly 8,200 devices currently in use to maintain into 2016.”

City staff expects sales tax revenue to be flat for 2016, also, Hillis wrote. The 2016 budget includes no increase in water rates or device fees and no increase in property tax revenue.

Many factors contributed to the $40.6 million in projected expenses. Two new positions have been proposed for 2016, according to the budget summary, as well as funding for an estimated 3 percent adjustment for a City-wide bonus and expenses for insurance premiums and staff benefits.

Capital Fund projects proposed for2016 include the Police Annex and Emergency Operation Center for $1.2 million, Maryland Mountain Improvements for $1.7 million, $6 million for Phase 2 of the Gregory Street Realignment and $2 million for a parking structure on Gregory Street (with another $1.5 million from Parking Impact Funds). New capital projects within the Preservation & Restoration Fund include the rehabilitation of two residential homes.

The Council passed the resolution and adopted the City budget for 2016. The Council also set the property tax mill levy.

The amount of money necessary to balance the budget for general operating purposes from property tax revenue is $8,455, according to the resolution, and the 2015 valuation for assessment for the City of Black Hawk is $234,861,739.

To meet expenses, the City levies during the 2016 budget year a tax of .036 mills on each dollar of the total valuation for assessment of all taxable property within the City of Black Hawk for the year 2015, according to the resolution.

Municipal Bus Service

Public Works Director Thomas Isbester introduced an ordinance authorizing an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Black Hawk and the City of Central regarding shuttle bus services. The IGA will provide a municipal bus service for Black Hawk and Central City.

The City of Black Hawk proposes to provide shuttle bus services in both Black Hawk and Central City, according to the request for Council action. Combining of the two current separate services should create a service that is more cost effective for both communities.

The bus service would start on January 1, 2016, according to the request. Black Hawk will provide municipal bus service to Black Hawk and Central City for calendar year 2016 in an amount not to exceed $620,000, to be shared pro rata among the parties, with Black Hawk’s share not to exceed $353,400, or 57 percent of the cost of the Municipal Bus Service, and Central City’s share not to exceed $266,600, or 43 percent, of the cost of the Municipal Bus Service.

The municipal bus service will be provided based on the bus route, schedule and at the cost to each party. Council members expressed concern about the additional cost of street maintenance and wear and tear on the vehicles.

Isbester said the agreement contains a component for street and vehicle maintenance. The Council approved the IGA.

Later in the meeting, Isbester proposed an agreement between the City of Black Hawk and MV Transportation, Inc., providing transit related services for the Black Hawk & Central City Tramway for 2016. MV Transportation will provide the services made possible by the IGA the Council adopted earlier in the meeting.

The City of Black Hawk and the City of Central have agreed to combine services and have a single shuttle bus service for 2016, according to the request. The bus will circulate through both Cities on a specific route with specific stops.

The route should take about 30 minutes to cover. A single bus will operate Monday through Thursday, and two buses will operate Friday through Sunday.

As part of the new service, the transit provider services were put out for bid. The City received two proposals. Three independent reviewers rated the proposals.

The proposals were rated on five categories including qualifications, proposed operation, hiring and training, management and cost. MV Transportation was selected and had the lowest cost. Isbester said the City has worked with them for a number of years.

The Council approved the resolution agreeing with MV transportation for its services. The next meeting of the Black Hawk City Council will be at 3 p.m. on January 13, 2016, at 211 Church Street.