Thursday, December 12, 2002
Steamboat Springs The Oak Creek Town Board adopted its 2003 budget with $250,000 written in for use as matching funds for grants that the town will use to improve Oak Creek's water and sewer system.
Mayor Cargo Rodeman took a grant-writing course earlier this fall and hopes to use the matching funds to acquire as much as $750,000 for municipal projects next year.
"We can't expect new businesses to hook up to our corrugated culvert pipes and then ask them to pay for it," Rodeman said.
Trustee Mike Kien was the sole dissenting vote on the passage of the new budget.
"I've been on several Town Boards where we set aside money for projects and slowly it was used for other things and the projects never got done," he said. Kien suggested reducing the amount to $150,000 and designating it to a special fund where it could not be used for other reasons.
Rodeman promised the money would be used only as matching funds and stood firm on the figure.
"We had a walk-through appraisal," Rodeman said. "It would be a four-year project and while the streets are dug up, they want to put in natural gas and lay cables where they are needed. This would happen in pieces."
Trustee John Crawford was concerned when he saw the $250,000 threw the final budget figures off to the point that expenses outweighed revenues. It did not look like a balanced budget, he said.
"This budget does not show the income from the grants," Trustee J. Elliott said. "We are not going to go into the hole."
The budget was adopted with a tax levy of 9.875 mills.
The budget was finalized without the aid of a treasurer. Treasurer Jo Dee Stordal resigned weeks before the budget was complete.
Trustee David Stordal, her husband, requested an executive session to discuss the events that led up to Jo Dee Stordal's resignation.
Jo Dee Stordal did not attend the meeting, but Town Clerk Nancy Crawford, who was involved in the events, asked that the matter be discussed in public.
Trustee Stordal explained the problems arose when the accounting software crashed and utility bills had to be audited by hand.
"Jo Dee went through the bills at home," he said, "and came back with a lot of questions such as, 'Why aren't certain people being charged late fees?' When this came to light, she experienced resistance from the office staff."
Instead of being thanked for her hard work, Trustee Stordal said, his wife received a reprimand for being rude.
"She was just trying to do her job," he said. "That's why I wanted to call this executive session to tell her side of the story.
"We've changed the Public Works Department and the Police Department," he said, "maybe it's time to clean out the office staff as well."
The board asked for Crawford's response. "That's her side," she said. "We see things differently."
Trustee Stordal asked that the office staff receive a reprimand.
The board made no decision.
Instead, it voted to move on and hire a new treasurer, Mindy Johnson, who will start Dec. 20. Johnson is the fiancee of the town's new police officer, Tim Willert.
The board also voted on an ordinance prepared by town attorney Bob Weiss to assign the duties of the town manager to the board and department heads.
Kien suggested eliminating the town manager position completely. That discussion could begin in early March, he said, once the board has recovered from the past six months.