Following a series of public workshops and discussions, Paonia trustees approved of the final draft of the fiscal year 2019 budget with no final changes and little comment from the public.
The board's been working on this budget for three months," said Mayor Charles Stewart during the requisite public hearing on the proposed $3 million budget. "We are far down the road and we've gotten to the point of the public hearing."
Giving credit to previous boards of trustees, town administrator Ken Knight said the town's financial situation continues to improve.
The budget summary estimates beginning reserves at $5,341,131, with total revenues for 2019 of $3,055,797 and total expenses of $3,095,446, for an ending reserve of $301,482. The difference of $39,649 will come from Space to Create fund pass-through grant reserves.
General Fund budget is set at $1,191,732 as follows: Administration -- $197,347; Building -- $56,925; Public Safety -- $319,400; Parks -- $85,006; Streets -- $133,379; Street capital -- $64,975; Bridge -- $300,000; Sidewalk -- $35,400.
The General Fund is still "precarious," said Knight, but a balanced budget was passed while funding for an additional police officer and a part-time School Resource Officer. Also included is $20,000 in revenue from the Delta County School District 50J for a part-time School Resource Officer to patrol the elementary, junior high and high schools. Police chief Neil Ferguson said the department recently re-hired Taffiny Patterson for the SRO position. She is undergoing training and will begin patrolling schools after the new year.
According to the budget transmittal letter, the town is also waiting to hear on several grant applications, including a Colorado Department of Transportation "Safe Routes to Schools" grant of $484,505 to build sidewalk, curb ramps and bike lanes connecting local schools with residential and commercial areas and town parks; and a street grant of $18.3 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand and improve Samuel Wade Road and access to town.
According to the letter, the town is also planning to apply for grants to hire an intern to assist in updating of the 1996 Comprehensive Plan; to complete expansion of sewer lines along Samuel Wade Road to Highway 133; prioritize annexation of enclaves within town limits for annexation; and to extend the sewer collections system along Samuel Wade Road to Highway 133, which could also result in annexations.
Knight also thanked the citizens for their "good sense and faith" in the board in passing the one-percent sales tax increase last April. Revenues will help make up for losses in recent years in severance taxes and mineral fees due to coal mine closures. That is helping put the town "on the road to recovery," said Knight.
The resolution to adopt the budget and a resolution to set the 2019 property tax rate at 8.322 mills are scheduled for a vote at the Dec. 11 board meeting. Based on the mills and the County Assessor's assessed value of taxable property of $12,032.511, the town will receive $100,133 in property tax revenue for the year.
Trustees also unanimously approved spending of $255 in 2019 to provide additional insurance coverage from the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency of $500,000 for excess crime. The coverage is in addition to the standard half-million dollars in coverage already provided by CIRSA. Other options allowed for $2 million in additional coverage at a cost of $805 pear year, or $5 million in coverage at a cost of $1,851 per year.
The draft budget is posted on the town website, www.townofpaonia.com, under the "Government" tab.