The Park City Council will hold another hearing on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget at its meeting Thursday, digging into capital improvement projects.
At the Budget Department’s first Fiscal Year 2020 presentation to the City Council, Councilmember Steve Joyce expressed concern about a forecasting tool that, year after year, predicts the City will be in the red for the next 10 years—if it continues on the same spending and funding path. But Budget Manager Nate Rockwood says that tool doesn’t consider how the economy will change, which is why the City is more inclined to react when a problem arises, rather than adjusting based on the forecast. Rockwood cites the growth in sales tax the City has experienced over the past five years.
"If we forecasted that out, we’ll never go into the red, but the reality is the economy isn't going to stay at eight to 10% growth every year," Rockwood said. "So you kind of just have to say, we're ready for that when it happens. We know that at some point the economy is either going to slow down, or there's cycles where it goes up and down. And when that happens, I think we're ready."
To prepare for that, Rockwood says the City uses priority-based budgeting. If it comes to the point where a change must be made, the City has tools in its kit to respond.
"Do you want to cut a service? Do you want to increase a fee so that, say, maybe recreation pays a little bit more of what recreation costs?" Rockwood said. "Or do you want to go to something like a property tax and say, we've never raised property tax before for the general fund, maybe it's time now that we raise that, just to keep up with the inflationary costs of delivering services."
Thursday’s presentation to the Council will focus on the City’s five-year capital improvement plan—projects related to infrastructure and community development. Last year, to limit the cost of the Treasure Hill bond put to voters on the ballot, some capital improvement projects were deferred or cut. Rockwood says they’re recommending Council approve sticking to that plan.
"We’re not recommending any new projects, but that doesn't mean, at all, that we're not doing projects," Rockwood said. "We're doing significant amounts of projects, primarily focused on transportation; on water improvement projects; on affordable housing; and then also the Arts and Culture District."
Rockwood says projects that were supported by the additional resort sales tax, such as street and Main Street plaza improvements, were the ones that were postponed. Projects related to the City’s critical priorities weren’t affected because those have their own funding sources. Rockwood anticipates it will be three to five years before there’s funding again for those delayed projects.