Grant money not in town budget

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The town of Hayden's budget is tight this year, but it's nothing out of the ordinary, Town Clerk Lisa Johnston said.

The budget only appears to be tighter because of the way it was written this year, Johnston said. Unlike previous years, potential grants and expected revenue increases were not factored into the 2004 budget. Johnston said this gives the town a better idea of how many actual dollars it has.

The town has more than $1 million in CD reserve funds, so "there's nothing to be scared about," Johnston said. "We're just trying to avoid deficit spending. It's like a savings account -- you don't really want to spend it. We would rather see the reserve funds grow through interest."

The town has used reserve funds in the past, but only for projects that couldn't wait such as paving several streets three years ago, Johnston said.

The town included expected grant monies in previous budgets because grant funding is how municipalities typically pay for big projects, Johnston said. Without those factored into the 2004 budget, revenues appear lower than usual, but they are not. In fact, based on a gradual increase over the past few years, the town expects to see about a $100,000 increase in sales tax revenues in 2004, Johnston said.

"Our businesses are supported by a constant stream of business, unlike the ups and downs Steamboat has," Johnston said. "We just don't see the fluctuation like other tourist economies do."

Johnston said she believes more people are commuting from Craig to Steamboat or vice versa, and many of the commuters are stopping in Hayden to shop. Also, the town gets a lot of business from airport traffic and sees sales tax revenues from the rental car companies.

The town's total funds are $1.61 million, and projected revenues for 2004 are $1.45 million. The town expects to receive two GOCo grants: one for about $90,000 to help build a $175,000 soccer field at Dry Creek Park, and one for almost $14,000 for a $20,000 steel half-pipe at the skate park. The town has to provide a 30 percent match for GOCo projects.

The town is projecting expenditures at about $1.34 million.

The town also could see higher costs for mosquito spraying next year. The town will have to spray more often because of West Nile virus.

"We're trying to be very fiscally responsible," Johnston said. "We're not broke, and we don't want to raise taxes or fees, so we're just using what we have."

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