Oak Creek makes transfer to balance budget

Increasing property taxes may be answer to question of town's struggling general fund

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— The Oak Creek Town Board agreed Saturday to transfer $304,793 from its utility funds to balance the town's depleted general fund.

Treasurer Sandy Jacobs said state officials told her transferring funds from the town's enterprise funds - water, electric, sewer and trash - to the town's general fund was legal. Oak Creek's Denver auditor, Tim Mayberry, told the board last year that such transfers were not legal, and the town ceased making the transfers.

The town historically has balanced its general fund with transfers from the enterprise fund.

Mayor J. Elliott made it clear to the board that making the transfer was a short-term fix to a problem that has been years in the making because of such transfers.

"We're robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said. "Ideally the general fund would be self sufficient, but it's not. It's grossly under-funded."

The general fund is made up primarily of sales and property tax revenues. To build the general fund without using the town's other funds, Elliott suggested increasing the town's 11.22-mill levy by about 5 mills or 45 percent.

If the town decides to place the issue before voters in November and it passes, the town would continue providing the level of service it currently does to residents, Elliott said.

If the ballot issue fails, the town would have to begin making drastic changes to its services, which could include police, public works and parks and recreation services.

Town Clerk Karen Halterman had concerns about asking taxpayers to approve another tax.

"To ask the voters to approve a mill levy raise when they just approved the (Oak Creek) Fire Protection District and (South Routt) Medical Center taxes, is a gamble," she said.

There are few options to collect property and sales taxes if the town doesn't tax itself, Elliott countered.

"We have to stop playing games and beating around the bush and milking the enterprise funds," he said. Oak Creek residents "will make the decision. They'll have to tell us what they want, or we'll have to suck our horns in and deal with it."

Board member Chuck Wisecup said he would support raising the mill levy, but said the town would need clear direction what the mill levy would be used for.

"We need to be able to say, 'here's what it's going to do for us,' and 'here's how it affects you Mr. property owner,'" he said.

Wisecup estimated the increase would only cost him an extra $54 a year.

The 11.22-mill levy generates about $82,000 a year for the town or $7,000 per mill.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who lives in Oak Creek, assisted in directing the Town Board through its work session Saturday, helping the town designate funds and prepare a supplemental budget to reflect the $4 million wastewater treatment project the town is undertaking.

The board is scheduled to adopt Saturday's decision to transfer the funds by resolution at an upcoming Town Board meeting.

In other business, the board met with police Chief Linda Koile to discuss the future of the Oak Creek Police Depart-

ment.

Koile provided the board her logs, time sheets and a letter describing her job duties.

The board had previously asked for Koile's information to better determine how she spends her time and what kind of police department would best fit the needs of the town.

Wisecup, one of the town's two police commissioners, said he was concerned the town was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by allowing Koile to work 24/7.

Since Nov. 28, 2006, Koile said she had only had 3.5 days off. That was for a funeral.

The board agreed to find a way to get Koile time off without her being on-call.

The board did not decide if it would hire another police officer or contract for law enforcement with the Routt County Sheriff's Office, saying it would continue to explore its options.

The Oak Creek Town Board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday for a regularly scheduled board meeting.

Comments

Scott Wedel 7 years, 6 months ago

It appears that the total for the enterprise and general funds are pretty close to being a reasonable total budget for Oak Creek. So then if they raise property taxes to get another $300K or so then presumably they could reduce water, sewer, trash and electricity rates by $250K or so.

Obviously, they need to spend more money on water, sewer and electrical infrastructure, but that number should be less than $300K a year. And enterprise should not fund paving roads

So if they increase property taxes while reducing utility rates then the bond would easily pass. If it is a straight tax increase then people will want to know where all the new money will be going.

They should probably put two measures on the ballot. One would be the tax increase, the other would be whether to whether to decrease utility rates by $250K not that the general fund will stop taking from the enterprise funds.

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bluntman 7 years, 6 months ago

what a scientist you are, Scott (re: 1st paragraph). you should move to OC, run for the town board or mayor, get yourself elected, and save us from ourselves. thanks in advance.

bluntman

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whyquestion 7 years, 6 months ago

now alexis WHO are these state officials Who OK'd the transfering of enterprize funds?????? or is this another big secret?????names names names alexis??????

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 6 months ago

You want to raise taxes... well...promise a town manager (and make it law) so that another elected idiot can't come in and spend like there's no tomorrow while hoodwinking the citizens and other elected officials. Sure wouldn't want another mayor to be placed into a self made position so that they could make a living off of the taxpayers while breaking the town. Town Government got OC into this mess, now get 'em out!

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whyquestion 7 years, 6 months ago

why have their been so many new treasures about one a year since the 80s???????like the same for auditors?????"deficit"cargo shoud repay the town?????? or the insurance company should pursue the perps????? and pay the town????? why make the oak creek citizens pay for this mess?????

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