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Sewer plant construction pushes Cedaredge budget to $8 million

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The Town of Cedaredge budget for 2016 totals a whopping $8 million in spending against anticipated revenues of $7.6 million.

The budget abstract shows spending deficits posted in each of the town's six budget funds next year. However, the town expects by year-end to retain financial reserves totaling $1.4 million across all six of its budget funds. Even though a particular spending item may be included in a budget, individual items can be cancelled or delayed to a future year.

Town officials have noted that the $8 million spending figure is being swollen in 2016 by construction of the new sewer plant. Almost half of the total spending projected for 2016 will be in the sewer fund.

By comparison, the 2015 budget was $4.5 million.

A budget analysis of revenue and expenditure shows 54 percent of revenues coming from grants. Another 24 percent comes from user fees for things like sewer charges and domestic water user fees, which could be considered the town's most important enterprises.

On the expenditure side, the analysis shows 65 percent of spending is on items termed "program operation specific." In reply to an email request for clarification, Town Administrator Katie Sickles explained the term is used generally as follows: "In most cases, program operation specific is a capital expense. In a few instances, program operation specific is for an expense that is only limited to that specific operation." The new sewer plant could be considered a capital expense.

Sickles noted some of the major aspects of the 2016 budget during a public hearing last month. They included completion of the new sewer plant; applying for a grant to replace the Jay Avenue bridge; police radar units; continued funding for the spring street fair Celebrate Cedaredge; and, continued funding for the annual Party in the Park.

Trustees were told at the public hearing that a mistake in the proposed budget document had created a shortage of $60,000. Trustees held a short discussion lasting eight minutes before approving $60,000 in cuts to make up for the shortage.

According to the budget message from town hall, there are "no merit increases scheduled for employees in 2016 and the budget indicates the town paying most of the extra health insurance cost."

Public works co-directors Scott Lock and Jerry Young noted some issues with their department budget during the public hearing. Lock stated that he just wanted to bring an issue to the town board's attention. Lock explained that public works employees had been told last year there would be no raises this year because of the large amount of overtime in the department payroll. This year overtime has been much reduced, but there are still no pay increases.

Young also noted for the town board, "We really don't know what the costs will be" to operate the new sewer treatment plant. The new facility will operate differently than the old lagoon system, and requires pumping the effluent uphill to a discharge point at Surface Creek. Actual operations costs will be learned by experience.

The 2016 budget calls for a 1 percent increase in sales tax revenues.

Sickles' budget message touches on an ongoing problem for the board. It states, "With a snowier November in 2015 than in 2014, estimated golf course fund 2015 year-end revenues and expenditures highlight the concern regarding the solvency of the restaurant and make any decision all that much more complicated."

Following are totals from the town's six budget funds:

• General fund, $2.5 million in revenue against $2.55 million of expenditures;

• Water fund, $842,350 in revenue against $879,218 of expenditures;

• Sewer fund, $3.7 million in revenue against $3.9 million of expenditures;

• Golf course, $426,500 in revenue against $448,490 of expenditures;

• Capital improvements, $162,500 in revenue against $185,285 of expenditures.

• Trust fund (Lottery) $25,100 in revenue against $32,100 of expenditures.

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Cedaredge, sewer
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