Meeker approves budget for 2017, funds in place to further economic development

MEEKER | Citizens are concerned about how and where the proposed Outdoor Adventure Center will be built.
“We keep hearing remarks about our property, about us having to sell it or losing it some way, and we’d like it on the record that we object to that,” said Water Street residents Mike and Mary Whalin.
“Every time we go to town, people ask us if we’re prepared for that,” Mike said.
“We’re not objecting to your plans, we just don’t want to move,” Mary added.
Mayor Regas Halandras and town manager Scott Meszaros were quick to assure the Whalins that “nothing is set in concrete” regarding a potential location for the center, and that the town has no plans to go about forcing residents to sell or condemning properties in order to make way for the center.
As the board prepared to approve the 2017 budget, which includes $2.5 million for the projects proposed by Better City and approved by the town, including the center, trustee Travis Day expressed his discomfort with the idea.
“I’m afraid we put that $2.5 million in and spend it here and there because it’s not specified where’s it’s going, just for Better City development. I’m just not comfortable with that,” Day said.
The Town is under no requirement to spend the money at all, but unless it’s put in the budget, they won’t be able to use it. Of the $275,000 that was budgeted for Better City development last year, $144,000 was paid out through county, which is serving as the town’s fiscal agent for the Better City contracts and projects.
Meszaros said the town will not be able to sign new contracts for 2017 with Better City at this time. “We’re in a partnership with the county and the county attorney is reluctant to act until the new commissioners are seated,” he explained. “The (current) commissioners want to get everything done before Jan. 1, but the county attorney would like to see the new commissioners sign off on the new contracts.”
Halandras suggested the town organize a joint meeting with the new county leaders with an update after the new year, and possibly spearhead a joint meeting with Rangely government officials as well.
The board approved the 2017 budget of $6,390,077. The mayor and board of trustees’ message to residents in the budget (available at www.townofmeeker.org) reads, in part, “The Town of Meeker will continue to support and work to increase tourism, through the cultural heritage tourism program we are pursuing the ‘Main Street’ program and other downtown development promotions. The Town will continue to support the business community in efforts led by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce by providing funding to the Meeker Chamber to insure its success.”
Some of the expressed goals for 2017 include:
– Completion of the water pump house project for the town’s water supply
– Funding the Meeker Chamber of Commerce
– Continue pre-development with Better City for housing, the Center for Outdoor Adventure and the creation of an Urban Renewal Authority, along with marketing
– Dust control in alleys, patching streets and crack filling projects following completion of broadband fiber installation
– Assist funding for staffing the White River Museum during summer weekends
– Work with ERBM regarding park maintenance and programming
In addition, the mayor and board of trustees wrote, “We appreciate the confidence you, the citizen, place in us. We will continue to be responsive, with a commitment to sound fiscal policies, including modifying programs if revenues are not available …
The board’s continuing goal is to offer the best services possible in the most economical manner and recognize this goal is key to the quality of life we experience in Meeker. We believe that citizen input is very important and essential for successful town government and value your input!”