2023 – 2024 Municipal Budget
At its November 1 meeting, the Fort Collins City Council adopted on first reading the bi-annual budget for 2023 -2024. Net of internal and inter-governmental transfers, the City has allocated $606.3M for expenditures in 2023. This compares with $495.7M in 2019, which represents an annual increase of 4.8% excluding $28.1M in federal stimulus proceeds. Given annual population growth of 1.9% and inflationary pressure that began to manifest in 2021, this increase might appear modest.
But this also reflects an unexpected boom in retail sales tax collections from increased consumer spending on goods and services as we emerged from the pandemic. As saving accounts have begun to shrink and elevated inflation changes spending choices, the budget assumes sales tax growth of 3.5% in 2023, slowing to 2.5% in 2024.
The 2023-24 budget recommends spending 100% of projected revenue and draws down reserves by $2.8M to fund an array of wish-list items, including $1.4M for on-going obligations. Approved programs include using reserves to replenish the immigration legal fund, to continue the household hazardous waste collection program (which duplicates a Larimer County program), and adds five new full-time employees across various departments.
As economic headwinds gain purchase globally, a more responsible approach would consider lowering revenue projections, raise contingency allocations should inflation prove persistent and refrain from highly ambitious initiatives that do not enhance the economic vitality of community.
Over the past several years, government at every level has taken full advantage of historically low interest rates to fund projects large and small. Fort Collins included. Additionally, federal tax dollars have flooded the market with fresh capital that has allowed our local government to fund an array of requests that would not have otherwise been considered feasible.
We encourage Council to refocus on the delivery of basic services and to prepare for what may be challenging economic times ahead.
Source: Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce