This is the busy season for town councils in Colorado and ours is no exception. That is because there are statutory time frames for approval of the town budget here and the time is is now. So we all get really busy for a bit here.
The process at the council end is straight forward, if lengthy. The budget is officially presented (in our case tonight) and then a public hearing is scheduled for 2 weeks hence. That is when the public gets their chance for direct input and to lobby for their favorite programs. Then the council must
haggle it's way come to agreement and approve the budget for the coming year. We are required to have the public hearing no more than two weeks after presentation and are also required to make the presentation essentially in this time frame. A lot of the hassling and adjusting have already been done through the discussion of preliminary and unofficial trial budgets before today. But tonight's council meeting may be lengthy as each council member tries to make the case to change the official presentation to their preferences.
Needless to say, it is an interesting time for financial affairs in general and the city in particular. It is complicated in our case this year by the requirement to undertake an upcoming project that will likely be in the $14-20 million range. Since the annual budget of the town is less than $20 million, we will have to bond the project. We have to start the project planning this year before the bond can be brought forth to the voters next year, so we have to find $480,000 in the budget to pay for the engineering studies that need to commence this year. This is a federally mandated project, but guess how much money they are supplying?