The Estes Park Town Board will review the proposed 2020 Town budget during study sessions and public hearings in October and November. Study sessions are scheduled for Fridays Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Town Board Room of Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Avenue. Public hearings on the budget take place during the Nov. 12 and Nov. 26 Town Board meetings with final adoption anticipated on Nov 26. The public is encouraged to attend and comment at these public hearings, which take place at 7 p.m. in the Town Board Room. The public is encouraged to attend the study sessions, although public comment is not part of the process until the Nov. 12 and Nov. 26 Town Board meetings.
Each October study session will include presentations on different funds within the Town government. The Oct. 18 study session will focus on the Capital Improvement Plan, a General Budget overview including employment compensation and benefits, Power & Communications, Water, Information System Technology Fund, Legislative, Judicial, Town Attorney, Town Administrator's Office, Human Resources and Benefits, Finance, Museum, Community Services including the Visitor Center and Events, and Fleet Maintenance. The Oct. 25 study session will focus on Outside Entity Base Funding, Community Development, Police, Facilities, Parks, Open Space Fund, Conservation Trust Fund, Streets, Engineering, Streets Improvement Fund, Community Reinvestment Fund, Trails Fund, Transit, Parking, Community Center Fund, Vehicle Replacement Fund, Transfers, and the overall Budget Summary.
Each year, the process begins with creating a budget schedule early in the year, usually March or April. Next, departments begin to review their budgets and potential needs for the following year. Strategic planning meetings are held in June with the Mayor and Board of Trustees to determine priorities and give guidance in budget preparation. The Departments then prepare their base budget requests along with service proposal change request forms with the Strategic Plan in mind and submit to the Finance Director. A base budget is then prepared with no operational changes as a starting point for the budget. Then departments rank the service proposal change request forms for the entire General Fund, identifying changes they would like to submit to the Town Administrator for consideration. The Town Administrator, working with the Finance Director, then identifies the changes to be included in the recommended budget. The Finance Director then prepares the proposed budget to be reviewed with the Town Board during the October budget study sessions. After the budget is approved in November, it is printed and submitted to the State of Colorado by the end of January.
The budget process requires Town staff and its elected Town Board to make difficult decisions to balance the Town's limited revenues with the cost of providing its core services, as well as to consider the ever-growing demand for expanded public services. Although fewer than 6,500 residents live within Town limits, millions of guests also rely on the Town's services. Instead of property taxes, which are kept low for its residents, sales taxes drive the Town's General Fund revenue so that visitors share the tax burden and support services like streets maintenance, parks, police services and many more.
Town of Estes Park financial information, including budgets and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, are available at www.estes.org/finance. For more information, please call the Finance Department at 970-577-3560.