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Council Adopts Comprehensive Plan and 2020 Budget
At its October 15 meeting, the Littleton City Council unanimously approved the Envision Littleton Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Master Plan. The two plans result from a community-driven process that began in March, 2018. The emphasis was to go into the community and listen through small group sessions and interviews. The engagement included 261events to build awareness and encourage idea sharing. Envision Littleton sought to renew and create partnerships that build lasting relationships to not only plan for the next 20 years, but implement plans that deliver on the unifying vision adopted in December 2018.
Reflecting on the city council’s commitment to take on a project of this magnitude, Mayor Debbie Brinkman said, “Thank you to this council. This took a lot of heavy lifting, long hours, debates; and a lot of conversations, discussions, disagreements and agreements. But we all share a passion for this community. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t. This is a labor of love from us to the community.”
Envision Littleton included more than 8,300 in-person conversations and over 70,000 electronic communications. Both draft plans were available for public review and comment. The Joint Leadership of city council and the planning commission reviewed public comment at a study session October 8, and the planning commission recommended adoption on October 14.
City Manager Mark Relph commended everyone who participated. “I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve been involved in efforts like this in the past and I thought I’d seen pretty significant public process and engagement. This just blows it away. I am truly proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Council also unanimously approved the 2020 budget. The Leadership Team began working on it in early summer. The staff and city council held an all-day budget workshop on September 7 with a follow-up study session on September 24.
The council considered 18 policy questions including funding a major update of the city code, an Economic Strategic Plan, and continuation of Envision Littleton efforts. Other projects include: the addition of four new employees (Crime Lab Technician and three Utility Operators), increased employee compensation to keep up with the competitive Colorado labor market, increased cyber security, disaster recovery, and risk management; and expansion of the police co-responder program to help people who need mental health and substance abuse services.
More than $1.4 million was approved for extensive park investments with almost $500,000 reimbursed from Open Space grants: the Writer’s Vista Park restroom and shelter replacement, Hamlet Park playground, shelter, basketball court and trail replacement; and restroom remodel at the Carson Nature Center. Design work was funded for the Berry and Ida Park playgrounds, the Southbridge Park ball field, playground and shelter replacement; and trail signage.
The fiscally constrained 5-Year Capital Projects Fund shows little funding for large transportation investments, fleet and information technology replacement, and investment in public buildings. Deferred maintenance will lead to much higher replacement costs. City council is looking to identify opportunities for additional dedicated revenue sources for future infrastructure needs.
The city began using the Priority Based Budgeting tool in 2018 and progress has been swift. Each department reviewed three of its programs to identify service levels and explore opportunities for cost recovery, partnerships, insourcing, outsourcing and efficiencies. The goal is to allocate existing resources to more closely align with city council priorities. In 2020, all programs will be rescored to determine their alignment with the Vision and the Comprehensive Plan.
The budget is available on the city’s website at www.littletongov.org/budget.