Trustees OK 2009 Town of Meeker budget

MEEKER — Rod Gerloff, the newest member of the Meeker Board of Trustees, was sworn in Dec. 10, and one of his first official acts of business was to vote to adopt the 2009 proposed budget.
Board members unanimously approved the budget.
“Our budget for the general fund, including $3 million estimated fund reserve, is $7,108,141,” said Sharon Day, town administrator. “The $3 million in estimated reserve has not been budgeted, but does need to be included in our ordinance.”
The reserve fund “is made up of unanticipated revenue and lower spending levels in prior years,” which are set aside for capital projects or unforeseen expenditures.
“We do not use it for operation and maintenance,” Day said.
Of the $4,108,141 budgeted for ‘09 (minus the reserve fund), Day said 56 percent was budgeted for capital projects.
“We also will really be looking at this budget and watching what happens with the revenues,” Day said. “Because it may be a year where we don’t collect all the revenues that we projected. If we don’t collect the revenues, we won’t be doing the projects.”
A public hearing for the ‘09 budget was held Nov. 18.
“All funds are balanced,” Day said. “It’s our recommendation that the board approve (the proposed budget).”
Included in the budget are pay raises for town employees.
“We surveyed other municipalities of our size in the state, with like budgets and number of employees and then we took a look at wages within our region,” Day said. “(Based on that information), some (town employee) wages were adjusted, but then everyone will get up to a certain percentage.”
Prior to issuing the raises, town employees will be given an annual evaluation.
“Each person will get their yearly evaluation, which will determine if they get the full value of the raise,” Day said. “The evaluations are in the process right now, and will be completed by the end of they year.”
“The minimum raise was 3.30 percent, with several being higher, in accordance with the survey,” Day said.
The mayor receives $70 a month, while trustees are paid $50 monthly. Those amounts did not change in the ‘09 budget.
Rio Blanco County also included a raise for its employees in next year’s budget. County commissioners adopted the ‘09 budget Dec. 8.
“Every position received a 5 percent raise,” said Teresa Anderson, human resources director for the county. “There were some positions that also received an adjustment based either on a change in the market, a change in the duties for the position, or ranking within the department.”
Immediately following adoption of the town’s budget last Wednesday, the board approved the mill levy for 2009.
“The mill levy this year is being proposed at 9.781 mills,” Day said. “We can collect that permanent mill levy number, but we can’t increase it without going to an election. If we ever need to increase (the mill levy), it will have to go to a vote of the people.
“The assessment receipt from the Rio Blanco County assessor was $19,156,200 (total valuation for the town),” Day said, “which results in $187,366 to fund expenses for next year’s budget.”
In other business, the town board agreed to pay, up to $1,500, for Terry Mobley to do dirt work at the pow wow dance ring at Ute Park.
“We really want to make it blend with the natural landscape more than it does now,” said Lynn Lockwood, one of the organizers of the first-ever Smoking River Pow Wow, held last July. “We just want it to retain the natural quality.”
The money will come out of the budget line item for Ute Park.
“All indications are things went very well last year,” Lockwood said. “And we can just expect it to get bigger and better.”
Next year’s Smoking River Pow Wow will be Sept. 25-26.
The board also approved the town’s annual holiday calendar, which includes 11 paid holidays.
“That’s very generous,” said Trustee Bob Omer.
“We follow the federal calendar (for holidays),” Day said.
There is a line item in the budget for holiday pay for town employees.
In addition, board members granted an extension for the animal shelter construction project. Trustee Chuck Mills excused himself from the discussion, because his company, CJ Mud, is doing the work.
“He’s putting in a retaining wall and a cement slab for outdoor kennel runs,” Day said. “It’s supposed to be done by Dec. 31.”
Day said it was critical the work be completed. Originally, the work was supposed to have been done last March.
“It’s just really important,” Day said. “Actually, the state of Colorado urged us very strongly a year and a half ago to get this done.”

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