Cedaredge trustees began the process of setting a budget for the coming year on Thursday, Aug. 17, spending time with town staff and department heads discussing spending needs.
Street maintenance was one of the items discussed. The town is budgeting $110,000 for this, "And this won't be cut," said Trustee Al Smith.
Public Works co-director Jerry Young said recent estimates indicate that $20,000 is needed to buy enough overlay to cover about one town block. So, the $110,000 will pay for overlay work for about five or six blocks. He said the town has 19 miles of road with over half in "bad shape."
Mayor Gene Welch said, "We have to start somewhere."
He asked Young for a schedule of the streets in the worst conditions. Young said a schedule of work should make sure that water line work is completed before streets are overlaid. The idea of a pavement cut moratorium on newly asphalted streets was also discussed.
Other spending priorities were discussed by the town trustees at last week's work session.
The town is hoping for a $350,000 grant for the Highway 65 water line replacement project to help pay the $873,168 total cost estimate.
A 3 percent merit raise for all employees is being proposed. The town will absorb a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs.
The town is planning to purchase three new vehicles in 2018 at a cost of $35,000 to $37,000 each. One will be for the police department, one for the water department, and one for transportation (public works).
The town plans to cut its previously budgeted $50,000 for the Region 10 broadband system to $10,000 in 2017. Town Administrator Katie Sickles explained, "The project has gotten smaller."
The $50,000 budgeted for 2017 for the Region 10 broadband carrier neutral location (CNL) installation was tapped for $7,160 to buy a WeatherPort outdoor events shelter. The balance is being eyed for other purchases, with $10,000 reserved for the Region 10 CNL.
Police Chief Dan Sanders said that the department is moving forward with its police dog project. Officer Nolan Davis is beginning training.
The police department is looking at an outright purchase of a vehicle rather than the three-year lease/purchase agreements that have been used in the past. The change would save interest expense, the chief said. The department is also eying a $5,806 purchase of new technology -- body cameras.
The water department plans to continue the ongoing project of replacing its 1,400 customer water meters with "radio read" units. An amount of $18,000 is budgeted for this year's work. Other water department spending includes $12,000 for an ATV, $12,000 for the third year of a four-year lease/purchase deal on a new tractor, water plant insulation repair, $20,000 for piping and other work on one of the one-million-gallon water storage tanks, $160,000 for water pipeline replacement, and $40,000 for purchase of a used vacuum excavation unit.
In the sewer fund, $49,300 is budgeted to construct a laboratory and buy testing equipment. Currently an employee has to take wastewater samples to Grand Junction for testing and wait a week for results.
Also during the meeting, Town Administrator Katie Sickles said that next year the town will host two of the Celebrate Cedaredge street vendor fairs instead of the three that were hosted this year.
The golf course is budgeting for new carpet in the clubhouse and another $25,000 for irrigation system work on the front nine. The irrigation item was left in the budget after questioning from trustees, but course managers Larry Murphy and Steve Phillips were told to itemize the amount. The golf course is looking forward in coming years to rebuilding four greens at a total cost of $75,000 including a projected $50,000 cost for a new green at hole number 15 on a location that is not presently owned by the town. The golf course also wants $50,000 to reconstruct cart paths on the back nine holes.
The meeting on Thursday was only the first in a series of budget hearings at which departmental spending priorities will be discussed in detail.
The overall picture in the current draft budget shows total revenue across all funds of $4.66 million set against expenditures of ($4.93) million. In the individual budget funds revenues set against expenditure figures currently are as follows: general fund $1.51 million vs. ($1.7 million); water fund $1.81 million vs. ($1.9 million); Wastewater fund $704,805 vs. ($660,747); Golf course fund $421,125 vs ($414,570); capital improvements fund $181,261 vs. ($225,263); and Lottery trust fund $27,200 vs. ($44,000).
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.