Oak Creek to vote on 2013 budget Thursday

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Residents or businesses that want to participate in Oak Creek's Christmas Lighting Contest can sign up at Town Hall by 5 p.m. Dec. 21. Winners will be announced in the January town newsletter, and judges likely will be volunteer members of the Town Board.

Winners in the residential and commercial categories will receive money off their utility bills. In the residential category, first place gets $100 off, second place gets $75 off, and third place gets $50 off. In the commercial category, first place gets $150 off and second place gets $100 off.

— Thursday is the last meeting of 2012 for the Oak Creek Town Board, and the agenda reflects the culmination of many months of work.

Resolutions set for a vote include increasing the monthly water charge, increasing the trash removal charge, approving the 2013 budget, appropriating the funds for the 2013 budget, levying property taxes and approving the employee salary schedule.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The monthly water charge increase is 5 percent, a $2.39 increase for a residential account, Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen said. She said the Colorado Rural Water Association rate study the town commissioned earlier in the year suggested significantly higher increases, but the town decided such drastic increases weren't prudent.

Oak Creek is working to move to a metered system and has system repairs that need to be done, Page-Allen said.

The decision was made to plan for a smaller increase than suggested by the study and continue to pursue grant funding for the system upgrades, she said.

The town had to do something, Page-Allen said, and also needed “to take a longer look at things.”

The increase in the trash removal fee comes after Old West Sanitation was awarded the contract for Oak Creek.

The new rates are $22.25 per month for residential service and $16.25 per month for seniors. Some fund balance is being used to offset the monthly rate increases, but Page-Allen previously said the hope is to recoup some of that cost through tighter billing procedures.

Oak Creek’s 2013 budget has been through multiple workshops, and a public hearing was held in November. The 2013 budget contains management fees charged to the enterprise funds used to run the town’s utilities.

These fees have been challenged by a petition started by Oak Creek property owner Scott Wedel. The timing of the petition means that the earliest budget that could be affected by its outcome is 2014.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the Town Board will vote on whether to waive the formal bid process for work on the town’s electrical generator. The generator needs modifications to come into compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Oak Creek receives payments for capacity and energy supplied by the generator.

Wagner Equipment, which would receive the contract, originally sold the town the generator, Page-Allen said, and came in below the other two possible options during initial talks. Funds for the modifications were appropriated through a supplementary budget passed earlier in the year.

Before the meeting, the Town Board will interview Bill Norris for a Planning Commission seat. Norris previously was on the Routt County Planning Commission and was an Oak Creek mayoral candidate.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

And so the great transfer of utility funds into the general fund requires a rate hike for the water dept to create the funds to be transferred into the general fund. So everyone's water bill is being increased to pay for town government.

It sure feels like a tax and goes into the general fund like a tax.

And the amount being transferred from the utilities went from zero to $180K when the rest of tax revenues stayed about the same.

Utility rates will only increase sharply if the town continues to take money from the utilities to benefit the general fund. In 2014 property tax revenues are expected to decrease 40%. So utility rates should be expected to increase to cover that loss of revenues and will probably also be asked to cover inflation related costs of government and so on.

So this is just the start of utility rate hikes to create enough money to be transferred to pay for government services.

As for the petitions to stop this, it could not stop this year's transfers, I have been busy with other issues and I was waiting for the adoption of the budget to be sure the issues raised were still accurate. Town could have modified the budget, not transferred as much and so changed the debate. Instead Town by already seeking a rate hike has reinforced the need to make this is one year exception and to not let it get totally out of control.

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