For a variety of reasons the city of Calistoga’s recent budgets are not bleak. Therein lies opportunity if we are bold enough to seize it.
The city’s budget anticipates revenues of over $10 million this year. More than half of that revenue is paid by visitors to local lodging, the so-called TOT tax. The budget’s expenditures, meanwhile, include provision for police, fire, public works, pensions, debt service, etc. The complete budget is available online or at city hall.
With the improving national economy, our city revenues have increased each of the last five years. The Budget Summary cautions however that “it is important to remember that the City’s budgets will, once again, be very tight.”
But there’s a bright side. The need for a tight budget in an expanding economy presents the opportunity for both spending more and spending less.
Spending more is easy. Indeed, our next budget proposes increased spending in most departments, including fire, recreation, and planning.
Spending less, however, as most of us know from personal experience, is harder.
The city’s budget reports our payments to the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau, for promotion and marketing. Since 2011 we’ve spent $300,000 or more per year (over $330,000 this year) to promote our city this way. The rationale is that the money spent is more than paid back by resultant TOT revenue.
For most of our expenditures…
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