City of Cortez projects budget surplus

The 2014 Cortez budget projects a $668,581 surplus, according to a memo that City Manager Shane Hale sent to municipal leaders last week.

City leaders will hold public a hearing next week before formally adopting the proposed $26.6 million budget for fiscal year 2014.

The memo reported total revenues of nearly $10.4 million were projected to exceed $9.7 million in total operating expenditures and interfund service transfers for the year.

The 7:30 p.m. public hearing will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at City Hall on Main Street.

The budget is posted on the City of Cortez website. It’s a 252-page document (You can find the budget at cortezjournal.com. To see it at the city’s website, go to cityofcortez.com and search for “budget” in the search window.)

Although capital projects, grants and loans are expected to reduce the overall fund balance by $836,919 next year, Hale vowed the city would maintain a strong reserve for emergencies.

By policy, the city is required to retain 20 percent of operating expenditures as a reserve, or $1.9 million based on the 2014 budget. More than double of what’s required, some $4.1 million is forecasted for reserves by the end of 2014.

“The proposed 2014 budget enables the general fund to provide needed services to the community without reduction or interruption,” Hale said.

For 2013, City of Cortez sales tax revenues have increased modestly over the past two years. Figures were up nearly 5 percent in 2012, and projections this year are just shy of 3 percent.

“The year 2013 has been a positive year for the city’s general fund when it comes to revenues,” said Hale. “The growth continues to be slow and steady; not a banner year, but we’re going in the right direction.”

For 2014, municipal leaders remain conservative, forecasting a 2.5 percent increase in sales taxes.

“The city will continue to hold the line on expenses,” Hale added. “We want to make sure the city’s financial footing remains solid.”

The 2014 budget contains a 2.5 percent average increase in employee salaries. The increased wages will be awarded based on merit, Hale told city council members last week.

“Some employees will receive more than 2.5 percent, and some will receive less,” Hale said.

With 2013 revenues outpacing expenditures by $528,980 this year, the city utilized its strong cash position to invest more than $1 million toward multiple projects, including new sales tax software, along with library, city park and golf course improvements, to name a few.

For 2013, the general fund reserve balance will decrease by approximately $615,172, from $5.5 million in 2012 to a projected $4.9 million.

tbaker@cortezjournal.com