What: Boulder City Council study session
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway
Highlights of the proposed budget:
$205,000 for the North Boulder Library Station
A $662,195 increase for the Boulder Fire Department to help fund the Wildland Fire Training Center, replace outdated firefighter masks and make investments to bring fire equipment in line with industry standards
A $340,000 increase to pay for extra staff in the Boulder Police Department. Over the next eight years, the department wants to hire eight more officers and one commander. Next year, the department plans to hire the commander and two officers.
$50,000 to fund a new snow and ice removal pilot program
Boulder officials are proposing a $269.5 million budget for 2014 that includes funding to hire two new police officers and a commander as well as making investments in the city's Wildland Fire Training Center.
The proposed budget, which will go before the City Council for discussion Tuesday, also includes establishment of a North Boulder Public Library Station, as well as for an employee to manage the next phase of the council-approved Civic Area Plan. It would also provide funding to chip away at projects in a maintenance backlog.
Even though the economy shows slow improvements, Boulder still faces funding challenges, City Manager Jane Brautigam said.
"While the city is financially sound, we still must prioritize funding to reflect community needs and make difficult decisions about how to allocate limited resources to achieve the highest desired outcomes," Brautigam said in a news release.
Seven city departments found more than $1.2 million in their general fund budgets that can be redistributed to meet some of the city's higher-priority programs and services. For example, according to the proposed budget, the human services department will save $100,000 because the county has agreed to increase its share of funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention Program.
Boulder's proposed spending would increase 5.8 percent from 2013, according to the plan. The city proposes spending $50,000 on a snow and ice removal pilot program to plow problematic residential streets -- streets with steeper grades, a lot of shade cover and a history of resident complaints.
City officials have a long-term priority of growing the Boulder Police Department by hiring eight new officers and one new commander over the next five years, Police Chief Mark Beckner said. The city proposes spending an extra $340,000 next year on adding staff to the police department.
The new commander position is needed, Beckner said, because the department has taken on extra duties -- including animal control, code enforcement and enforcement of the marijuana codes.
"All of those responsibilities have been parsed out to different commanders who have a full plate and are running their shifts," he said.
Beckner said the department employs 173 officers, but nine are in training. The long-term goal of hiring eight extra officers and one supervisor will help make sure the department is closer to being fully staffed because at any given time, an officer may be on medical leave or there are new officers in training replacing retired members of the force. To coordinate with police academy schedules, the department makes new hires in January and July. Then, training takes months.
"It takes us 18 months from the time of posting and getting new officers out on the street," he said.
The city's proposed budget also plans to fund the fire department at a higher level next year -- an extra $662,195 -- to pay for, among other things, the operations and maintenance of the Wildland Fire Training Center, replace outdated firefighter masks and make investments to bring fire equipment in line with industry standards.
Fire Chief Larry Donner said his department is budgeting to upgrade firefighters' breathing apparatuses within the next three to five years. The city proposes spending $74,699 in the upcoming year, and Donner said the investment would help upgrade the masks so they are more heat resistant.
"Incrementally, (the investment) is helping us make sure we have the equipment we need to maintain and continue to do the good work we do for this community," Donner said.
The North Boulder Public Library Station is projected to cost $205,000 in its first year. It could open as soon as spring.
The north Boulder annex of the public library would have limited hours and materials. It would provide public access to computers, popular materials -- including DVDs and children's books -- a storytime program and art exhibit space, which all ranked among community members' top priorities, said library spokeswoman Jennifer Bray. Residents would also be able to pick up materials reserved through the main library.
The station would be at the northeast corner of Broadway and Yarmouth Avenue, in an empty storefront owned by Boulder Housing Partners, Bray said. The organization has pledged to rent the space out to the city at a nominal cost, however the proposed rates hadn't been set Thursday.
The city is budgeting about $90,000 for setting up the library and purchasing materials. Then, it would cost about $115,000 to operate in its first year.
The City Council is scheduled to begin studying the city manager's 2014 recommended budget at its Tuesday night study session, which will be aired live on Channel 8.