Oak Creek Town Board approves 2013 budget

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— On Thursday, the Oak Creek Town Board approved its 2013 budget.

The resolutions adopting the budget, appropriating funds for the budget and levying general property taxes were passed unanimously.

With the adoption of the budget, the Town Board decided to designate the funds raised from a 5 percent water-rate increase, which was passed during the meeting, for capital improvements.

Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen said money raised through the water-rate increase likely will go toward a grant match if the town is awarded funding for two capital projects.

The water tank project wiped the utility’s funds for capital projects, Page-Allen said, and there now are two projects on the horizon. The first project is the move toward a metered water system. The second project and the most recently added to the capital plan is a water system engineering project.

For 2013, the budget is calling for $644,500 in grant funding. The capital outlay line item calls for $706,720 in expenditures. The difference is planned to be the town’s contribution, Page-Allen said.

The town is applying for funds from the Department of Local Affairs and the Community Development Block Grant program.

Initially, only the water metering plan was budgeted, but Page-Allen said she didn’t want to let a grant cycle go by if there were other water-system needs.

The 5 percent water-rate increase will amount to a $2.39 increase per month for a residential account. Page-Allen said the water-rate study done for the town called for rate hikes three times as large.

“This will come up with what we need to make matching funds,” she said. “It’s not a whole lot, but it will end up being the matching funds.”

Oak Creek property owner Scott Wedel, who has registered petitions opposing management fees assessed on utility enterprise funds, objected to the water-rate increase.

Wedel said he sees the situation as increasing rates to pay the management fees and suggested canceling the rate increase and stopping the management fees.

“Without the management fees, we lose the position we need for these projects and to go for these grants,” Town Board member Chuck Wisecup said.

Trash collection rates also were increased Thursday. The new rates are $22.25 per month for residential service and $16.25 per month for seniors. Page-Allen reiterated that the increased rates do not reflect the total increase from the new contract. Some of that difference is being paid through fund balance, which Page-Allen hopes to reduce through tighter billing procedures.

Wedel also objected to the trash rate increase, again citing the management fees assessed to the fund as the reason.

Speaking about the budget as a whole, Wedel said Oak Creek needs to find its long-term funding needs and seek a tax to cover those.

In other action:

• The Town Board approved, 6-1, a land-use change of minor impact for 111 N. Sharp St.

• The Town Board approved unanimously becoming the fiscal agent for LiveWell Northwest Colorado, which Page-Allen said would help lower personnel costs.

• The Town Board approved, 6-1, a new salary schedule.

• The Town Board approved unanimously waiving the formal bid process for an electrical generator emissions upgrade.

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

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

“Without the management fees, we lose the position we need for these projects and to go for these grants,” Town Board member Chuck Wisecup said.

Once again, the Board's justification does not make any sense.

Taking money from the utilities and transferring it into the general fund weakens the utilities.

And yet, somehow by labeling the transfers as "management fees" means that removing money from the utilities is described as strengthening the utilities.

The rate hikes are needed because the transfers of utility funds into the general fund has now created financial issues that needed to be made up by rate hikes. If they had not taken the money from the utilities then the rate hikes would not have been needed.

I also objected to the management fees when they discussed the budget. I asked the question that since they took $180,000 this year when sales and property revenues were unchanged from last year then how much will they need to take next year when there is $40,000 to $50,000 less property tax revenues.

I got no answer.

Simple expectation is that since utility transfers are greater than property and sales tax combined then utility rates now have to cover increased utility costs and increased town government costs. With next year's reduced property taxes then there will have to be large utility hikes to make up for that.

This will not last long because such high utility costs have consequences. The marijuana grow operations will soon enough find it cheaper to operate elsewhere. The loss of that revenue will now not only affect the electric utility, but since now there won't be the money to transfer from the utility then it will also blow holes into the general fund.

This should also be expected to cause number of water and sewer customers to decrease since the profit of mobile home lots and small apts continues to decrease. So owners should be expected to get rid of lower rent options and combine into larger options that cost more. But as number of paying customers decreases then there are fewer left to support the water and sewer utilities which puts further pressure on rates. So it becomes a destructive cycle.

The utility rates already affect property values since the question is always how much does it cost each month. Well, when the choices are $60 less a month in utilities then it affects the amount of the mortgage and so on. So now the choices can cost upto $10,000 more and still cost less each month. Thus, that cuts property values by $5-10K per house.

This is a mistake that will have long term consequences.

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