The City Council formally adopted its 2015 budget last week. The projected operating budget is $275.85 million, which is $6.41 million less than the 2014 budget. Water and sewer rates will increase. City Manager Harold Dominguez writes that, “While this most certainly is not a budget that is flush with resources, it is one in which we have had more ability to meet the demand for resources than we have had since before the economic downturn that began in late 2008…. As always, the sales and use tax and the property tax are the two key drivers of resources in our proposed budget. While sales and use tax has rebounded well since the 2008-09 economic downturn, property tax has not. Property tax revenue peaked in 2009 at $14.4 million but since then the decline in values in both residential and commercial property has been slow to return.”
Dominguez notes that the closing of Twin Peaks Mall will create a drag in sales tax growth, although the mall is projected to have a partial opening in the fourth quarter of 2015. On the positive side, residential construction activity in 2014 is on track to meet or exceed budget projections. New commercial construction is about equal to 2013 after seven months and will be boosted by the mall redevelopment. On the negative side, Longmont saw a net loss of 141 primary jobs in the first half of 2014 and Dominguez predicts that number will increase with the recent announcement of Amgen closing its facility in Longmont. The City focused on five priorities for the 2015 budget, including public safety, economic vitality, amenities, infrastructure and responsive government.