Woodland Park Council Remains Divided Over Passage of 2021 Budget

DDA, Grants  and Capital Improvement Projects Emerge as Big Winners

Bob Volpe

After months of special meetings and debate, the Woodland Park City Council passed the 2021 budget at last week’s regular meeting.

And despite all the squabbles about spending reductions and cuts in service, the elected leaders actually signed off on a slight total fiscal hike from 2020. However, its nuts and bold general fund will decrease a tiny bit.

There are two ordinances that were approved last week by a 4-3 vote that focus on the 2021 budget.

Ordinances 1386,appropriates sums of money dealing with the general fund, encompassing most city departments.  Ordinance 1387, meanwhile, focuses on sums of money for other funds, including capital improvements and future grants.

The total budget for 2021 is $22.5 million. This is an increase of $693,059 over the 2020 budget or a 3.2-percent increase over 2020.

Of the total sum, $11.2 million goes to the general fund which was passed by ordinance 1386. This is a decrease from the 2020 budget of $31,337, or minus 0.28-percent.

Funds going to things other than the general fund are $11.3 million. These funds were approved by ordinance 1387. Here, there was an increase in the funding over the 2020 budget.

Included in the funds under ordinance 1387 are funding for grants, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and funds for culture and recreation, streets and capital improvement projects, storm water management, and the wastewater utility enterprise.

Of the funds under ordinance 1387, the increases over the 2020 budget are: a 30.6-percent increase for the grants; a 2.4-percent increase in the DDA expenses; a 23.2-percent increase in the streets and capital improvement project monies; and a 13.7-percent increase in the water utility enterprise fund.

However, budget cuts occurred in the areas of  culture and recreation and  the wastewater utility enterprise And the biggest cut was delivered to the storm water management fund, which took a 66.5-percent cut.

The passage of both ordinances was not without dissent and debate. Councilmembers, Kellie Case, Rusty Neal, and Mayor Pro Tem Hilary LaBarre voted against both ordinances. Case justified her no vote by stating, “We have spent four -months plus with work sessions, and meetings working through line by line, page by page of this budget. And last minute, a lot of that went out the window and a raft of changes were made.”

Case expressed her displeasure with those dealings, “I don’t appreciate that. We came to a consensus and last minute there were changes.”

Neal noted his opposition to the ordinances. He stated he had received a phone call from a constituent who also complained about the way changes were made at the last moment.

LaBarre did not comment, but agreed with both Neal and Case. A major objection of both LaBarre and Case was funding for the DDA.

In the end, Mayor Val Carr made it clear there will be no reductions in services to the community with the 2021 budget.