The Cedaredge trustees, wrestling with 2015 budget issues at an all-day work session last week, want to see park facilities for residents given higher priority than a new municipal court chamber and council meeting room.
Juggling available finances for a budget year when $100,000 in new cuts from the general fund are a priority, trustees are willing to forego a remodel of council chamber and municipal court room.
Instead, the trustees prefer to spend available money (about $15,000) on new lighting for the Town Park tennis courts. The project funding includes a $2,500 grant the town has already received from a tennis industry trade association for the work.
The work will also address an electrical service problem at the tennis courts’ power drop that provides power for AppleFest vendors who need large amounts of electricity.
The council chamber/courtroom remodel at the Community Center may be begun with remaining funds while additional funds to complete the project are sought.
Other pressing budget issues discussed by the town trustees during their first workshop of the new budget season included the following ones:
• The police department has delayed a new vehicle purchase out to 2016 and will use the current fleet through next year.
Chief Dan Sanders said that officers “really need” personal body cameras to use on patrol. He expects savings on court costs by equipping officers with six of the devices that record encounters with subjects. The department will be developing a policy for use of the cameras, Sanders said.
The department’s “Tasers®” are not being software-supported by the manufacturer and need to be replaced.
Also needed are new holsters for officers, a radar unit, building security cameras and secure evidence lockers.
• In the administrative department, the town is looking for $100,000 in cuts to its general fund. No decisions yet, but $41,000 in savings would come from no pay raises for employees and no increase in town-paid health care benefits. Also, no cost-of-living increase for town workers in 2015. “We were fortunate to have been able to grant merit increases except for 2008 and 2009,” town administrator Katie Sickles said.
An engineering firm has gone $22,000 over budget with design work on a project that did not have adequate right of way for the design presented. Trustees are balking at paying the $22,000.
The state is making grant money available and the water department is looking for a $200,000 to $250,000 water project to leverage with $50,000 in town funds.
• A collapsed sewer line running under Highway 65 near the Jay Road intersection, along with another line repair in town will cost $16,000.
The sewer plant project director will be applying for a $2 million, zero-percent-interest loan in September, and for a $1 million grant in December. The sewer plant project is planned to break ground in mid 2016.