The Money Matters Of Estes Park

It’s been a busy summer and fall for Estes Park. Tourists have been flocking to Estes Park. Thanks to them, sales tax collections are high and the Town’s coffers are full. Making it possible for the Town to provide uninterrupted essential services to the townspeople of Estes Park and to consider reactivating projects that were put on hold during recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and wildfires.

The process for annually deciding what services the Town provides has four-steps. Step one is the strategic planning done by trustees during their study sessions held during June. The plan that the trustees produce during step one establishes the goals and sets the priorities that inform the next the steps that follow.

Step two consists of the executive leadership team (ELT) and department heads of the Town developing budget recommendations to support the goals and priorities in the strategic plan. Each head must consider the respective needs (staffing, equipment, maintenance, projects and so on), make decisions and create an estimated detailed budget for their department. Then, finance director Duane Hudson and his staff evaluate the departmental budgets submitted. The ELT and department directors finalize the budget recommendations for the presentation to the two Board Study sessions.

The presentation packet includes the a) 2019 and 2020 actual expenditures, b) amended budget for 2021, c) end of year estimate for 2021, and d) proposed budget requests of each department for 2022. Additionally, they provide a summary, by fund of capital improvement plan projects. The summary also contains year by year details for multiple year projects. Some projects may have been put on hold due to the pandemic and wildfires. We’ll consider them here.

An interesting aside, last year, the second study session concerning the budget was scheduled at 1:30 pm the day townspeople were evacuated due to the wildfires. Two weeks later trustees and staff held the session.

During step four of the process the trustees approve the 2022 budget for the Town. Approval involves presentation of an overview of the budget with public input at the Oct. 26 and Nov. 9 meeting of the Board. A vote of trustees occurs at their meeting on Nov. 9.

Having participated in numerous budget meetings as a trustee, I am very grateful that the finance and accounting personnel of the Town strive to make the budget information comprehensible and useful to the townspeople and me. To access the information go to Budget Sessions Material Packets at the Town website or listen to the Zoom recordings of the study sessions.

When you access one, the other or both, I bet you’ll be grateful too. Further, if you pause to think about what it takes to keep the Town running smoothly I bet you’ll be impressed by the thoughtful way that the Town goes about providing for the common good of the people who live, work and visit Estes Park. I am definitely grateful and impressed.

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