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Paonia considers how to spend new sales tax revenue

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Paonia trustees will consider adopting amendments to the 2018 fiscal year budget at the July 10 board meeting. Among the amendments are the appropriation of anticipated $68,300 in revenue the town will receive in 2018 from a one percent increase to the local sales tax, which took effect July 1. Voters approved the increase, estimated to raise an additional $130,000 annually, in last April's general election.

Trustees first considered each of the proposed amendments at a June 12 budget revision work session.

Of the $68,300 allocation approved for administration:

$21,500 goes to staff pay increases;

$17,000 goes to payroll increases related to the public works department for parks maintenance;

$27,800 goes to streets;

$2,000 goes to street capital.

Trustee Bill Bear voted against the administration allocations. Included was an allocation of $11,800 for Caselle software, primarily used for bookkeeping related to the enterprise (water/sewer/trash) fund. Bear called the allocation "unfair and unjust," and made an amended motion to allocate 25 percent of the $11,880 from administration and 75 percent from the enterprise fund. The motion died for lack of a second.

All other amendments passed by a unanimous vote.

Of the $27,800 allocated to streets, $10,135 will go to engineering of the Fifth Street intersection adjacent to Subway that was "inadvertently not budgeted for" in passage of the 2018 budget, said Town Administrator Ken Knight. Workers compensation receives an additional $3,679, and $550 went to dues and subscriptions for membership into the Colorado Communication and Utility Alliance.

The allocation, which represents 42 percent of the anticipated tax revenue for 2018, passed despite staff recommendation to reject it, "...keeping the promise to the citizens to try to allocate a good percent of the new sales tax for streets," said Knight.

In recommending approval of $17,000 for the parks fund, Knight said that after canceling the parks maintenance contract beginning this year, workers are discovering "maintenance that wasn't done in prior years that they are now trying to catch up on." The funds will allow public works to continue that maintenance, said Knight. There is a learning curve in taking over parks maintenance, added Knight. "It is a work in progress..."

The board also approved an additional $4,000 in the public safety fund for costs related to the hiring of a new police officer. That money comes from the 2018 budget and not from new sales tax revenues, said Knight.

Two proposed amendments were tabled.

At the suggestion of Knight, the board tabled a decision on either contracting building department services out or continuing to provide services in-house until the board can hold public work sessions with area builders, contractors and members of the public. "I think you should not make any final decisions on building (services) at this time," said Knight.

Allocation of $40,000 from bridge reserves to the bridge fund was tabled until the board has more information. The annual allocation is optional, explained Knight, and will only be spent if a scheduled inspection by the state bridge engineer confirms that the current bridge support system is sufficient to support a bridge deck expansion. If deemed sufficient, the funds would go to engineering of the deck.

An additional $500 was added to the sidewalk fund, which comes from a monthly $3 fee added to in-town utility bills. The board previously approved $46,285 for construction of handicap access ramps.

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