The Durango City Council unanimously approved its budget Tuesday, a document filled with cuts to compensate for increasing health care costs.
“This budget has been cut to the bone, it looks like to me,” Mayor Sweetie Marbury said.
The 2019 budget represents a 2 percent increase in general fund expenditures, which funds departments such as the police department, the city operations department and the parks and recreation department. The rise in spending can be attributed to increases in salaries for city employees, according to the approved budget.
Revenues are expected to rise by about 3.5 percent over 2018 levels, according to the budget. The total budget calls for $92,407,661 in expenditures.
But there will be dozens of cuts to the general fund in 2019 because of catastrophic health insurance claims that have driven up costs for the city, said Finance Director Julie Brown. Those cuts include a decrease in funding for streets, snow and ice contracted services, special events put on by the library, and salaries for part-time parks employees.
The only time more cuts have been made in the past two decades was after the Great Recession.
“This year is probably the next largest cuts that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Brown said.
The 2019 budget also does not include funding for major street and sidewalk maintenance, something that was done in anticipation of the city passing a tax increase to pay for streets, sidewalks, law enforcement and city buildings.
City councilors have separately discussed another tax measure to bring in the revenue the city says it needs for those items.