Belts, budgets continue to tighten

As the Town of Meeker’s board of trustees and staff begin preparations for the 2012 capital budget, there’s an underlying sense of caution and concern. At the last regular meeting of the board of trustees on Sept. 20, the board discussed a few of those concerns.
Town administrator Sharon Day told the board there is a $339,973 shortfall projected for 2012 between the general fund and operation and maintenance expenditures, excluding mineral lease and severance payments and capital expenditures.
It has always been the town’s philosophy, Day explained, to use the mineral lease and severance payments for capital items only, but it appears those funds will have to be applied to operation and maintenance costs in 2012. As of August 2011 sales tax revenue is down $394,288.
“The Town does have a reserve, but we may have to cut back on capital expenditures in the future,” she stated.
Among other 2012 budget figures, trustee Gerloff asked if the town could justify a 3 percent salary increase because of the economy and the sales tax situation.
Day replied that as of January 2012 the Town of Meeker will be totally debt free as the water loan will be paid off, and that should be celebrated.
Range Call Committee president Suzan Pelloni informed the board that Range Call saw a loss of about $14,000 in 2011 alone, and “it has become difficult to bring outsiders to our event with other competing events such as Country Jam just the week before.”
Pelloni stated that if Range Call suffers another loss in 2012, the celebration could be done, but the committee is trying to be creative and would like to book top name talent for next year’s concert. Range Call Committee member Jason Dunham asked the board to consider allowing Range Call to hold the concert at Ute Park next year. He explained that the construction of the new 4-H building has limited available space at the fairgrounds and the time constraints between the rodeo and setting up for the concert are prohibitive at the arena. The board agreed to work with the committee to discuss the details of such a change and discuss it again in October.
Progress continues toward having the ERBM Recreation and Parks District assume responsibility for the operation of the town’s parks, with the exception of Ute Park and the Fourth and Water Street RV Park.
A scheduled presentation on the status and future of the former elementary school building on Main Street was removed, as the presenter, Duane Stewart, has been unable to find any investors for the project.