The City of Delta is putting the final touches on the 2014 budget, which appropriates more than $20 million in expenditures.
Some highlights include:
• The city will begin taking steps to close the municipal light and power plant. The facility has served city residents since 1937. Given recent transmission improvements, utilities director Steve Glammeyer said the chance of a full-scale outage requiring usage of the plant in an emergency situation is less than 1%. "It really is just an economic decision," he said.
• Hours of operation at the golf course will be closely analyzed. Reduction of hours during slow days, weeks or months may be incorporated into a three- to five-year management plan for the golf course. Savings will only be realized if the course's two full-time employees are temporarily assigned to other duties, Clifton explained. Golf course memberships are also a factor. Golfers who pay annual membership fees expect to be able to golf year-round; if the golf course closes for three months of the year, they could reasonably expect a reduction in membership fees.
Modest price increases are slated for 2014.
• Sponsors will be sought for the city flower program. Council members acknowledge the popularity of the beautiful displays, but want to cap costs through xeriscaping, the use of more perennials and sponsorships. It was pointed out the flowers could be a draw for downtown when the alternate truck route is completed.
• The city will solicit bids for weed control and street sweeping for comparative purposes.
• At the recreation center, fees and hours of operation will get a close look. Admission fees have not been increased since Wilma Erven took over as manager nine years ago.
• Fort Uncompahgre will be open only for school tours and special events by appointment.
• Police bike patrols will be increased and a patrol vacancy will not be filled for the time being. One position has already been eliminated. Chief Robert Thomas plans to weigh the impact of scheduling changes before determining whether the current vacancy should be filled.
• City council is urging a facilities study to determine if some offices should be consolidated. Employees are scattered throughout the city yet space is available at city hall. It may also make sense to combine some departments, council members agreed.
• Council members want to look at the possibility of selling city property, including Cottonwood and the White Ranch. The city owns numerous small parcels throughout the city as well.
• In the parks department, reduction in services at the cemetery and Horse Country Arena was discussed.
• Employee incentives and awards will take the place of cost-of-living and step increases.
• Citizens will again be asked to de-Bruce, which will allow the city to retain fees and fines collected through municipal court.
• Utility rates for water, sewer, trash and electricity will increase Jan. 1. Due to a low fund balance, there will be no transfers from the municipal light and power fund in 2014; instead, transfers will be made from the water, sewer and trash funds for the first time. Additionally, late payment penalties and non-payment shut-off fees have been increased to more accurately reflect the cost to providing that service.
• The implementation of administrative fees will reduce the amount of transfers to the golf course and general fund. Clifton said discretionary funds totaled $1,195,500 in 2011. In 2014 discretionary transfers are budgeted at $650,000, a reduction of $545,000, or 46%.
• A street maintenance plan will be developed. The city plans to do some "catch up" on Delta's 64 miles of street in 2014 and has budgeted $400,000 for street improvement projects.
The draft budget presented at the Nov. 5 city council meeting was the culmination of a series of work sessions facilitated by city manager Justin Clifton. Each department used a standardized approach to identify key indicators in pursuit of a more data-driven, performance-oriented approach to operations.
"It's been a long process, but I think we really raised the level of awareness of our programs," Clifton said.
Council members feel they're better equipped to make intelligent decisions, and they extended their appreciation to Clifton and the department heads "who have embraced this new way of looking at things."
The budget is scheduled for formal adoption Nov. 19 with a second reading for appropriations scheduled for Dec. 3.blog comments powered by Disqus