The city of Cortez is forecast to spend $11.7 million in 2015, nearly a 5 percent increase over last year’s budget of almost $11.2 million.
Over the past several weeks, city leaders have held a series of budget workshops with department heads. With a proposed budget of nearly $3.7 million next year, the police department is allocated for the largest departmental appropriation. In 2014, the agency’s budget was $3.4 million.
Addressing city council members earlier this month, Police Chief Roy Lane said about 85 percent of the department budget was earmarked for wages and benefits. That line item is likely to increase next year.
In 2015, Lane has requested to add a compliance officer to the force. He told council members he envisions reassigning a senior officer to the position to handle the influx of compliance issues related to medical and retail marijuana operations.
“We’re going to get in trouble if we don’t get on top of these shops,” said Lane.
When the city first allowed medical marijuana dispensaries in 2010, Lane said the police department fell behind in its enforcement.
“I was disappointed,” he said.
In addition to ensuring compliance with state and local regulations, Lane said the new compliance officer would also be responsible for monitoring alcohol and tobacco issues.
City revenues from marijuana licensing totaled $9,500 in 2013 and $9,000 in 2014. Next year, those fees are projected to increase to $50,000.
Revenues from liquor permits are forecast to more than double from $9,000 to $20,000 in 2015. Cigarette taxes are also expected to increase by about $5,000.
Total city revenues for 2015 are forecast at nearly $10.8 million, almost 4 percent more than in 2014. The bulk of those revenues, nearly $8 million, are from taxes. Revenues from sales taxes alone are forecast to increase more than $175,000 next year, to nearly $7.2 million.
Adding carry-over funds of $4.8 million, the city expects to start 2015 with $15.6 million in total available resources.
At a budget workshop in late October, City Manager Shane Hale said the “big picture” financial outlook for Cortez was positive, with revenues up more than $375,000 than expected for 2014.
He added 2014 expenditures were about $800,000 less than what was adopted.
“The good news is that we spent less than we thought we would, and we brought in more than we thought we would,” Hale told city council.
Hale added the city expects a balanced budget and continued growth both in 2015 and 2016.
The city’s deadline to adopt 2015’s 239-page budget is Dec. 15.
According to next year’s draft budget, the planning and building department is expected to see the greatest increase in expenditures, rising from $380,000 to more than $600,000 in 2015.
A majority of the increase, about $200,000, will be earmarked to update the city’s land-use code.
Other 2015 departmental budget expenditure increases include more than $30,000 for city council, $16,000-plus for municipal court; an extra $10,000 for human resources; about $17,000 more for city clerk; nearly $60,000 more for finance; about $24,000 more for general services; and more than $95,000 for parks and recreation.
A few municipal department budgets are projected to see expenditures decline next year, including grant administer, public works and the library.
The city earmarks an eighth-of-a-cent in sales taxes for capital equipment purchases, providing approximately $300,000 annually. In 2015, the city plans to use the funds to purchase four police cruisers, a bobcat, golf carts and an SUV.