RD’s Moab City Council Budget Workshop Meeting Preview 2021-08-16

[Editor’s note: Both Rani Derasary and Mike Duncan have graciously agreed to let MADAR reuse their regular email updates to constituents. Despite the overlap, we are running both versions of the MCC previews. Readers can choose to read both, either or neither of the previews.]?

Our next regular City Council meeting is not until August 24, but FYI the Council is having an added workshop on the budget Monday, August 16, which is also tied to proposed possible City property tax increase from our current $0/0% collection. Here’s relevant info:

  • Monday, August 16 City Council budget (& property tax) workshop, 5:30pm (in person, City Hall Council Chambers, 217 E Center Street)The agenda and packet say nothing about live feed or COVID-19 precautions, but I believe the meeting should be recorded on the City’s YouTube channel here, so that you can watch it live Monday, or after the fact: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl00z0Zgdmz4y1FoI0l7CJAAlso, I haven’t heard about any COVID-19 precaution changes, so I believe masks will still be required for everyone attending – regardless of vaccination status – and social distancing will be required. I did note that one or more Council members or staff may attend remotely, and think most of us will be there in person.The 15-page packet for this August 16 workshop is online here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_08162021-1063.
  • The one workshop item we’re discussing is described as a “Budget Review Workshop,” presumably as a few Council members seemed to have outstanding budget questions at our last (August 10) meeting. (Should you like to listen to the August 10 meeting – which I recommend as background – the video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLKAv0BI3eA – scroll to the 59:26 mark, ie the 59-minute, 26-second mark.)
  • FYI I note this above as a budget “property tax” workshop, as I’m guessing at least some of my colleagues’ questions on August 16 may be tied to the different property tax scenarios staff put in the final budget in our August 10 packet. (The August 10 packet showed 5 scenarios for charging different property tax amounts in the coming 2021-2022 budget year, varying from: raising $0 (0%) in property tax in the coming year, to raising $1 million, $1.5 million, $2 million, or a maximum of $3.3 million (100%).
  • Should you like to review that final budget, please go to pages 8-40 of the August 10 packet here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_08102021-1061?packet=true.) 

Now back to our August 16 meeting. I don’t have a document telling me what all the pages in the packet are per se, so here’s my interpretation just reading them:

  • Pages 2-5 of the August 16 packet are a memo from City Finance Director Ben Billingsley explaining why there are differences in the Tentative Budget the City put out in April 2021, versus the Final Budget version in our August 10 packet. Unlike the memo I shared with you in my August 8 email, if I understand correctly, this one in the August 16 packet focuses specifically on budget differences between the April Tentative Budget and August 10 Final Budget scenario 2. Scenario 2 is the one proposing raising $1 million in property taxes this coming year, a scenario Councilmember Duncan has expressed interest in considering.
  • Page 6 lists some of the items that constitute “infrastructure” in the City of Moab.
  • Page 7 appears to be a list of 2022-2025 capital improvement projects separated by priority/urgency. •
  • I believe pages 8-9 come from past presentations on the pilot public transportation shuttle project that’s part of the Hotspot funds the City has received. Pages 8-9 show two different funding scenarios for what local entities including the City would have to put in as their part of the overall budget over the next 5 years. You can see that in either scenario 1 or 2, that $73,000 total will be required from local entities (City, Grand County, other local monies we find).
  • Pages 10-11 appear to be the City’s current (2021-2022) pay plan for employees. As mentioned in past updates, pay is adjusted once a year as needed in the budgeting cycle of a municipality. If this is helpful background, back in 2016 the City hired outside consultants (as is common for cities to do) to do a salary survey of what we were then paying for various positions compared to similar communities in order to make sure our salaries were in line – ie not too high, or too low for competitive hiring. (If you really want to dig into the details of that, see pages 20-54 of our Nov 22, 2016 packet here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11222016-598. FYI the salary survey was voted on at our Dec 13, 2016 meeting, with packet pages 39-55 covering that: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12132016-601).
  • Page 12 of the August 16 packet appears to show City insurance rates for individuals and families, as well as retirement rates.
  • Page 13 appears to be an organizational chart for the Moab Police Department
  • page 14 appears to be a chart of our attorney department expenditures over the past 5 years.
  • Looking at page 5 for context, I think page 15 appears shows what the CIty’s savings would be if we replaced 419 existing streetlights via Rocky Mountain Power this year. It looks like one sees a return on that investment in 3 years. (I’m not sure what the reference to 441 lights is at the bottom of page 15, and will ask about that on Monday.)

That’s it for the pages in our August 16 packet. FYI in case it’s of interest to you as residents, in terms of some of the behind the scenes background work we do: I did spend about 2.75 hours discussing line item questions I had on the 2021-2022 budget with Finance Director Billingsley last Friday, as I presumed I might want to go into finer detail that some Council. It may just be me, but I find the budget complicated and find it beneficial to reacquaint myself with its complexities each year, so FYI that’s why I invest this time. I also feel it makes me better at answering resident questions about the budget. Please never hesitate to ask questions about this and other aspects of City government; it makes my own understanding better, and hopefully improves your understanding of how the City functions, and what adjustments we can make to streamline it further, as well. 

Wishing you a good week,

Rani Derasary, Moab City Councilmember