Town cuts capital budget by nearly half a million

RANGELY I Budgeting can be a challenge, but especially in a down economy.
“There was a lot more back and forth in terms of getting a balanced budget this year, due to the shortfall, primarily, of severance and federal lease monies we expect to receive,” said Rangely town manager Peter Brixius, “and the fact the grant process through energy impact will be very minimal in 2010, so that certainly affected our capital project budget.
“Some of the major capital projects we will have to find some financing for whether it be in low- to zero-interest loans or a combination of loans and grants,” Brixius added.
The total capital budget for all town departments was approved at $1.576 million, down from last year’s total capital budget of $2.052 million.
“Some of those items that are budgeted are based on obtaining appropriate grant funding,” Brixius added.
The town council approved its 2010 budget Dec. 8 and certified the mill levy.
Among the highlights, “I can tell you that over 2009’s budget, we reduced expenses in line with revenue reductions, about 15 to 17 percent, depending on the fund,” Brixius said.
The budget included no salary increases for town employees.
“Salaries were held neutral,” Brixius said. “The town did have a 5 percent health insurance benefits increase, which was actually pretty palatable from what I’ve been hearing from most communities. We will also be holding off on some of the open positions, in terms of new hires and summer help, and overtime will be strictly managed and cut back as much as possible.”
As another cost-saving measure, the town will do more work in house, rather than outsourcing it.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of things in house that we might have had tried to outsource in the past, like line replacement,” Brixius said. “That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different approach.”
In the town’s 2010 budget, general fund revenues are “just under $3 million,” compared to $3.69 million last year. For capital projects within the general fund, $514,000 was budgeted, compared with about $1 million last year.
The mill levy remained at 10 mills, which “is exactly the same mill as last year,” Brixius said. “Of course, the valuations have changed.”
The valuation for the town of Rangely is $19,515,860.
“That’s up from last year,” Brixius said. “So we can expect in a year or two valuations will drop again, because it’s always in arrears.”
The town has three enterprise funds — gas, water and wastewater. Brixius said the gas fund was budgeted lower, “because the price of gas is lower, so revenues will come down significantly.” Revenues from the gas fund were budgeted at $1.75 million, compared to budgeted revenues of $2.1 million for 2009.
Despite lower-budgeted revenues overall, Brixius said the town’s finances are in good shape.
“Thanks to the vision of the council, they have taken a very conservative approach, in terms of expenditures, the past few years,” Rangely’s town manager said. “Our reserves are in a position that we can be comfortable that we can achieve everything we need to get done, without any real hardships.”