As the Town of Paonia prepares to pass the 2016 budget, discussion at the Nov. 24 public budget hearing turned toward anticipated construction and upgrades projects.
The town has set aside $95,000 in capital outlay funding for replacement of sewer line crossings on Third Street. Grants and loans will be sought for repaving of streets once the project is complete, said town manager Jane Berry. Whether the project will take place depends on what the board of trustees decides, and on bid submissions.
The most problematic intersections for sewer lines are the alleys between Delta and Rio Grande streets and Delta and the railroad crossing, said public works director Travis Loberg.
"There definitely could be projects taken off the list, and Third Street could be one of them," said Berry. "It might be too cost-prohibitive at this point."
The town is still considering construction of a half-million gallon water storage facility, included in the original $6.1 million water system upgrades and enhancement project, but is leaning toward putting the money into water main reconstruction following more than 90 water main breaks that occurred thus far this year. The budget calls for $1.85 million in water project expenditures for new water distribution projects, to be funded with the funds remaining from state grants and loans designated for the enhancement project.
Of the estimated $147,000 the town will collect for the general fund on an existing 1 percent sales tax, approximately $134,000 is budgeted for capital improvements, including parks projects, a proposed upgrade in street lighting to LED bulbs, and the town's share of the anticipated high-speed broadband Internet project.
The town is also considering replacement of old water meters. Bill Brunner, one of two citizens attending the budget hearing, inquired about the estimated return on investment for such projects. Berry replied that, based on prior experience, it's about four to six years. "The water meter is the cash register, if you will, to the water utility," said Berry. If meters aren't measuring properly, "not only are we not billing the customer properly, we don't have an accounting of how much water is lost to the system..." Water meters are anticipated to be addressed in a pending rate study, said Berry.
The town also anticipates spending $30,190 on sidewalk repairs, funded through a $3/month sidewalk fund fee added on each water/sewer/trash account.
The town is considering contracting out its trash collection service. If the board decides to continue providing the service, an estimated capital outlay cost of $35,000 for a new truck and toters is in the 2016 budget. The purchase would result in a more efficient collection system and allow the driver of the truck to be the entire crew, said Berry. The amount reflects about one year of a 10-year loan on a new truck and purchase of toters.
The town views the 2016 budget as "the benchmark for multi-year budgeting and capital improvement planning as we provide for a sustainable future and continued improvement for our fiscal vitality," according to the budget message. The town board will revisit the goals set forth in the budget message in the coming year.
The budget message and draft budget are available on the town website, www.townofpaonia.com, under "Budget and Financial Documents."
The board of trustees anticipates approving the budget at the regularly scheduled Dec. 8 board meeting.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.