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Crawford ready to adopt budget

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The Crawford town council will finalize the 2018 budget on Wednesday, Dec. 6. It will hold a public hearing, beginning at 6:45 p.m., and will adopt the budget during the regular meeting, beginning at 7 p.m.

The trustees discussed the numbers one last time during a work session on Nov. 15. Before tackling the expense items again, former mayor Jim Crook pointed out several things to consider.

He began with a comment on the town's finances. "The town is far from being broke," said Crook. Referring to the final page of the budget worksheets, Crooks pointed out the balances in a money market account of $146,443.88, a certificate of deposit of $36,790.00, and a reserve balance for the water and sewer funds of $62,553.27 -- amounting to more than $245,000. The town also has $23,731 in its Colorado Trust Fund account (CTF), which has accumulated from annual contributions to the town from Colorado Lottery proceeds.

"I would encourage transparency within the town ...

the town is far from being broke," he repeated.

Crook then commented on code enforcement. "You [the town council] keep saying you can't enforce ordinances," he said. "Most people are law abiding citizens, and most people, if you tell them of the ordinances ... are going to follow those regulations.

"We seem to manage to enforce. The problem, you have to go out to do it. It is not the staff, it is up to those on the council to go around and tell the people when they are in violation."

He noted that trustee Mike Tiedemann serves as building inspector, which sparked a conversation with the trustees on a variety of topics.

When the trustees refocused on their budget discussion, trustee Jeff Peed asked for clarification on the town's reserves.

Public works director Bruce Bair said, "There is confusion between reserves and the capital improvement fund." The capital improvement fund (primarily in the money market) accumulates and is set aside for future major town projects. The reserves are the difference between budgeted revenue and expenses.

Peed noted, "The reserve is a necessary practice. The town needs to have a cushion, and a capital improvement fund . . . all is already spoken for."

Chris Johnson clarified that the CIF and reserves are available funds, not committed to anything specific.

The town also has a balance of over $323,000 in its checking account. The water and sewer reserves are included in the checking account.

Johnson asked the council if it was possible to establish a minimum amount for these reserves. Mayor Wanda Gofforth responded, "We want to basically budget for what we have . . . what's coming in is what we are going to spend."

Johnson continued to press, "I just don't know if at some point we say we want to pay our people more. Is there some point we go into these reserves?"

Town clerk Cally Gallegos responded, "From an employee's point of view, if you only spend what is coming in, we cannot expect a raise."

'That's my point," said Johnson.

Tiedemann noted, "Reserves are there to support the infrastructure of this town." He explained that if raises were included in the budget, and the town had to use reserves to pay for the increase, "we won't have reserves."

Gofforth added, "We don't want to dip into the reserves."

Instead, she suggested the council consider bonuses in this budget cycle. The council will review the town's financial position in December, when the final accounting is completed. If a surplus exists between revenue and expenses, the trustees would deteermine if a bonus could be paid out.

The 2018 budget to be presented at the Dec. 6 meeting shows the following:

• Anticipated general fund revenue of $99439. It anticipates approximately $15,000 more in sales tax revenue from 2017, and a decrease in severance and mineral leasing taxes of about $4,000.

• General fund expenses are $98,993.52. Most items are budgeted at or near 2017 levels, with the exception of street maintenance. In 2017 the town spent $9,000; it is budgeting $1,500 in 2018.

• The water fund revenues are anticipated at $94,200, with $8,200 allocated to reserve. Expenses are budgeted at $83,393.52, nearly identical to 2017.

• The sewer fund revenues are anticipated at $98,400, with $6,640 allocated to reserve. Budgeted expenses are $93,493.52.

• Payroll expenses are split among the three major funds. The total budgeted for town clerk is $35,121; for public works director is $54,897; for public works assistant is $36,597; and for council is $7,920. In addition the budget includes additional payroll expenses for taxes, PERA, unemployment and other payroll expenses of $25,365.

• The CTF fund expencts $1,800 in revenue. Budgeted expenses are $15,000, reflecting a major project to improve handicapped access and sidewalks to the town park. The project will dip into the CTF reserve of $23,731.03.

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