Oak Creek Town Board continues budget work

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— Another meeting, another budget work session for the Oak Creek Town Board. Predicting a 50 percent drop in property tax revenue in 2014, Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen said her goal was “to stabilize the general fund and not have this looming property tax hurt” the town.

The Town Board spent the first part of its meeting Thursday night working on community funding requests: donations from the town to nonprofits and community organizations.

Page-Allen has worked to standardize the process, and the review committee — Page-Allen, Oak Creek Treasurer Sandy Jacobs and trustee Jenny Lewis — checked applications for completeness and offered feedback.

The town received four requests totaling about $9,000.

As part of the larger budget picture, Oak Creek will start to assess a management fee on its utilities, which are run as enterprise funds. According to projected budget numbers, that fee will add about $180,000 to town coffers in the next budget year, providing a needed boost before the expected property tax revenue decline.

Page-Allen described the process as putting the profits of the fund back into the community.

“This is how it’d have to be done if we outsourced it,” trustee Wendy Gustafson said, referring to management of the utilities.

The utilities recently have been evaluated for rate levels and the need for capital projects. There are no rate increases in store for the electric or sewer utilities in the near term. The trash utility has been put out to bid. Meters still are a priority for the water utility, and Page-Allen said she expects to find grant funding for residential users to install meters. The town likely would contribute 10 percent of the cost as a matching part of any grants, according to Page-Allen.

Officials hope to have water meters installed across town by the end of 2013.

The management fees from utilities also will be going to a department that has been missing in Oak Creek for a while: a police department.

The town’s newest police officer, Bobby Rauch, was sworn in at Thursday night’s meeting.

Page-Allen said his first day is Monday. Rauch said he most recently worked in detentions in Jefferson County and lived in Maryland before that. He said he’s excited to work and live in Oak Creek.

“My hometown is smaller than this,” Rauch said.

Oak Creek’s other new police officer already is familiar with Routt County. Ed Corriveau is making the transition from Hayden’s Police Department to Oak Creek as soon as his two weeks are finished.

Describing himself as a skier, runner and cyclist, Rauch said, “It’s going to be fun.”

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

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

"putting the profits of the fund back into the community"

What a pile. Town has a monopoly on water, sewer and electric service. Town sets the rates. Town decides how much to take from utilities and put into general fund. How is that different from an utility tax? It isn't except they can decide to operate the utilities to take money from the residents and put the money in the general fund without needing voter approvals.

Some cities have an utility franchise fee that they charge on all utilities including those owned by that city. Those franchise fees are like 2% or 4%. Oak Creek plans on taking 15% of revenues from electric and sewer funds. That is crazy. And misleading to suggest it is comparable to what is done anywhere else.

It sure makes running town government easy when you can spend whatever you wish and just take enough from the utilities to pay for it all. And if utilities don't have enough money today to cover the spending then town can just raise the utility rates to cover it.

When a town government has declining tax revenues then it is supposed to have less money to spend. That is supposed to feedback into government to consider if government polices are contributing to revenues decline. Instead, Oak Creek has declining revenues and yet has more money to spend by taking it all from the utilities without any indication of public support at the ballot for such policies.

Such policies matter. There is a 5 unit building for sale at $159K for months. It was largely remodeled and sold for $575K in 2007. But it has smaller lower rent units and with $100 a month for water and sewer per unit means there is not much left for maintaining the building and paying other expenses. So what was once a $575K building is not worth buying for $159K because utilities are so high for small studio apts so the building would be hard to operate and make any money. Certainly, it won't make anything like 15% which the town is taking from the utilities.

Just as town talks about infill and secondary units. But with utilities so high then it just never worth it to build small houses or an apt over the garage or such.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

“This is how it’d have to be done if we outsourced it,” trustee Wendy Gustafson said, referring to management of the utilities.

Another steaming pile. If that is believed then how about putting it to the test and put managing the utilities out to bid? This $180K or 15% of revenues is not the total management cost, but the PROFIT! This $180K is after utilities pay for town buildings, maintenance and utilities, and staff. If utilities were outsourced then the private sector operator would save costs by automating billing with smaller office space and not having a well paid person sitting around to accept payments. Second, the private operator would expect to make 15% on the management contract, not 15% of utilities total revenues.

For $180K profit that might be enough to get the CEO of YVEA to leave and take over running OC's system. Combined that with what is also paid for staff salaries then that would appear to be more than what he makes as CEO of YVEA!

If town residents want to pay a 15% franchise tax and thus an amount more than property taxes and sales taxes combined then approve that at the ballot box.

Regardless, town residents should get the government which they are willing to pay for. It should not be up to government to decide what size it wishes to be and then take that amount from the utilities and then raise the rates to cover what is being taken.

Or are the residents of Oak Creek so passive that no one else cares that town is taking more for the general fund from the utilities than property and sales taxes combined without even a town vote?

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jerry carlton 2 years, 2 months ago

Scott Sell your Oak Creek properties and then you will not have to worry about Oak Creek or move to Oak Creek and sell your Steamboat properties and then you will not have to worry about Steamboat.

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max huppert 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Scott, but like government they think they know what is best for everyone else, they love to spend other people money!!! Wow 2 more cops I feel safe now, what a waste of money, guess the mayor felt scarred with all the Hate crime we have in OC. I am sure the raises will be coming soon as well.

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