Rangely Town Council approves draft budget

RANGELY I The Rangely Town Council met Tuesday for both a work session and regular meeting to discuss and vote on a draft 2016 budget and listen to several departmental updates.

The 2016 draft budget for the town includes two significant changes, insurance benefits and employee pay. According to Town Manager Peter Brixius the current health insurance plan for town employees will come with a 24.6 percent cost increase in the coming year.
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Nielsen said, “I don’t see the town being able to absorb that increase and we can’t pass it off on employees.” The town is currently exploring their options.
The town council agreed on a 3 percent raise for their 33 employees, equaling a $49,000 increase in the budget. They also discussed the possibility of performance or “equity based” pay increases for four to five people.
Brixius told the council that since 2009 the total fund balance has increased by $7 million, a fact that he attributes to quality staff that has been able to increase projects completed in house instead of hiring outside firms.
Brixius also said, “I think we are going to need that fund balance. We are going to have to go into defensive mode the next few years.”
The draft budget was approved unanimously during the regular meeting.
The council listened to a short presentation by Rangely School District Superintendent Matt Scoggins regarding the mil levy override ballot question. Scoggins told the council that in the early 1990s Rangely had the second highest paid staff in the state. However after the School Finance Act was implemented Rangely lost much of it’s funding.
Since 2010 the state has failed to fund the district with $3.2 million that they were promised. The mil levy, should it pass, would add an additional $430,000 annually to the district. Scoggins assured the council that the money raised would stay within the district.
Jeff LeBleu updated the council on several projects included the almost completed waterline work in La Mesa and the fiber optic work. According to LeBleu there have been several instances of the fiber optic line accidently hitting one of the town’s lines which then had to be repaired.
Don Reed also gave an update to the council regarding several issues in the Water Department.
Reed told the council that the roof replacement at the water treatment plant should begin in the next week. He also informed the council that the waste water treatment plant recently passed an inspection, however they will likely now be required to perform an audit going back to 2013 due to reporting violations.
Town Manager Peter Brixius had a short update for the council. He shared that the water irrigating of the parks and golf course has been allowed to run for two weeks longer than normal this year due to the warm weather.
He also said that due to the mild winter of 2014 the town would not need to purchase any sand for deicing roadways, as they still have last year’s supply.
Lastly, Brixius informed the council of a joint project with the town, school district and local Elks Lodge to honor Julius Poole who recently passed away. They plan to use the northwest corner of Stanolind and Main streets to honor Poole by planting three trees and putting up a bench.
During the new business portion of the meeting council member Kristin Steele encouraged the town to make as many purchases locally as possible to help support the Rangely community.
The Rangely Town Council will meet again on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.