City budget votes must be redone

Council approval didn't meet charter requirements

Posted 10/25/16

Englewood doesn't have an approved budget or spending authorization for 2017, even though the city council voted 3-2 to approve the five budget and funding-related ordinances on second reading at its Oct. 17 meeting. Plans call for a re-do, with …

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City budget votes must be redone

Council approval didn't meet charter requirements

Posted

Englewood doesn't have an approved budget or spending authorization for 2017, even though the city council voted 3-2 to approve the five budget and funding-related ordinances on second reading at its Oct. 17 meeting. Plans call for a re-do, with final budget approval possibly set for Nov. 21.

The problem was, Councilmember Linda Olson and Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gillit were absent, leaving just five members in attendance; and a series of 3-2 votes on the 2017 budget fell short of the city charter standard, which requires four votes on the seven-member council to approve budget matters.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, there were 3-2 votes in favor of approving the 2017 budget, the ordinance allowing spending of the budget funds and the ordinance setting the city's mill levy, plus the ordinances establishing a budget and allocating those budget funds for operation of the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Mayor Joe Jefferson and Councilmembers Steve Yates and Amy Martinez voted to approve the ordinances, while Councilmembers Rita Russell and Laurett Barrentine voted against the ordinances.

“The city charter requires approval of budget-related ordinances by a majority of the council, not just a majority of the council present for the vote,” City Manager Eric Keck said. “So we plan to place the first reading of the five ordinances on the agenda for the Nov. 7 city council meeting.”

If the ordinances pass on first reading and are not changed, plans are to have them on the agenda for second and final reading on the Nov. 21 council meeting.

“Since the vote taken at the Oct. 17 meeting didn't meet charter requirements it means the ordinances failed,” Keck explained. “So, we must again schedule the ordinances for first and second readings in order for them to be adopted.”

Jefferson agreed with the timeline for the votes on the ordinances.

“We know the timeline will be tight to meet the deadline to get the approved mill levy information to the county,” he said. “However, we believe we can meet that deadline on the present schedule.”

The total budget includes all aspects of city operations, ranging from the general fund, which is the cost of day-to-day operations, to independent operations called enterprise funds, such as the golf course and the wastewater treatment plant.

The total revenues projected for all city funds are $91,601,698. The total amount expected to be spent in 2017 is $97,183,370.

The more than $6 million difference between total revenues and total spending is spread among enterprise funds and other operations. Kathleen Rinkel, director of finance and administrative services, said at the Oct. 17 meeting that the differences between spending and revenues for some funds are more than covered by each fund's reserves on hand.

At the Oct. 17 meting, Russell and Barrentine voted against of the budget-related ordinances approval because they said they could not approve a budget that wasn't balance.

The largest single budget item is the general fund, and as proposed, it is balanced because proposed revenues exceed proposed spending Rinkel said. The 2017 general fund is expected to receive revenues totaling $45,186,231, while the total cost of day-to-day operations is projected to be $45,046,747.

“This entire 2017 budget is structurally balanced,” Rinkel said, “That means the proposed revenues and reserves for all funds equal or exceed projected spending.”

Councilmembers discussed some aspects of the budget. During the discussion, Jefferson said the 2017 budget includes funding to help support the Museum Outdoor Arts and funding for aid to other agencies, and Russell said she would like to consider not keeping the funding for those two items in the budget.

Barrentine agreed.

“We have almost a $7 million budget deficit in 2017 and providing $96,000 to MOA and providing money for aid to other agencies is tax dollars we shouldn't be spending,” she said. “All the members of the council didn't agree to either of these budget items and I feel it is not the way to spend tax dollars.”

Jefferson said he felt the appropriation for the Museum Outdoor Arts was proper because Englewood gets a good return for its money.

“The museum brings a lot of people to Englewood, and many of those people probably wouldn't come to the city if the museum wasn't here,” he said. “I feel we just need to find ways to get some of the people visiting the museum to visit Englewood businesses.”

He said the funds will be available for the aid to other agencies and when the issue comes up, the council will decide how or if to allocate those funds.

Russell and Barrentine also voted against approving the budget and fund appropriation for the wastewater plant.

“The plant budget we are considering lists more than $19 million in revenues and exactly the same amount in spending,” Barrentine said. “We need to see a line item budget so we know where the money is coming from and how it is being spent.”

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