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Longmont City Council to Hear Comments About Proposed 2019 Budget

September 22, 2018
Comments about the creation of railroad "quiet zones" where trains aren't required to blare their horns — something sought by the city and a number of its residents — may come form members of the public during Tuesday night's public hearing on Longmont's proposed 2019 budget.

If You Go

What: Longmont City Council; agenda includes public hearing on proposed 2019 city budget

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., Longmont

Full agenda: tinyurl.com/yccnqx3v

Budget information: The proposed 2019 budget, the proposed 2019-23 capital improvement program and the proposed 2019 city employees pay plan are available through links at tinyurl.com/y9dn9jy5

Longmont residents will get the opportunity Tuesday night to suggest what services, programs and projects they’d like continued, expanded, added to, reduced or eliminated in the 2019 city budget.

That night, the City Council will hold its first formal public hearing on the proposed $362.79 million spending package the city staff unveiled on Aug. 28.

Typically, relatively few people show up at Longmont’s annual rounds of budget hearings to comment about the taxes they’re paying and the fees they’re being charged and what they’re getting in return.

That was the case last year, when a total of four people spoke during several September and October council hearings on the $315.2 million budget eventually adopted for 2018 — with one of those four, former Councilman Ron Gallegos, putting in three appearances by himself.

While Tuesday will be the first official hearing on next year’s budget, council members already have been hearing from some constituents about spending that those residents want kept or increased.

That has included a call to appropriate the funds needed to speed up the city’s effort to create quiet zones at railroad crossings.

Only $30,000 had been earmarked in the 2019 budget initially proposed by the staff to pay for proceeding to plan and design improvements at some crossings that could end a federal requirement that trains blare their horns as they approach those crossings.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, the council directed the staff to include what’s now expected to be $380,000 for planning and designing quiet zones crossing improvements next year, although that would still fall short of covering the eventual total cost — estimated to be up to more than $6 million — of constructing those changes at up to 11 crossings.

Council members also heard last Tuesday from a number of residents concerned that next year’s budget might not continue the city’s payments to the Regional Transportation District to provide fare-free service on local bus routes within Longmont.

Council and staff members assured those fans of “Ride Free Longmont” that $280,000 is included in the proposed 2019 proposed budget to subsidize that program. However, the city learned on Wednesday that the RTD might hike the amount Longmont must pay in 2019 because the transit agency will be increasing its local fares — for riders who pay cash in the transit district’s other cities and towns — from $2.60 to $3 a trip.

“We have heard loud and clear that people want us to start creating the quiet zones,” Councilwoman Polly Christensen said after Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have likewise heard how important Longmont’s subsidized bus service is to residents.”

Councilman Aren Rodriguez said he has not heard much public feedback about the budget, “beyond that which has already been discussed in the previous meetings concerning quiet zones” and the number of residents advocating for continued funding of the free bus rides.

Councilwoman Bonnie Finley said that overall, “I think the staff did a great job on the budget” and its proposed increases in that she said “have all been necessary, given the growth our city has experienced.”

Said Finley: “City staff receives awards for its budgetary proficiency year after year because they do such good work.”

Tuesday night’s chance for people to comment on next year’s budget will be the first of two such hearings. The second is scheduled for the council’s Oct. 2 meeting.

Then, the council will issue its own directives for any changes it wants the staff to make in the proposed budget, which will put into ordinance form and up for formal council votes on Oct. 9 and Oct. 23.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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