Meeker Town Board begins 2017 budget discussions

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MEEKER I It’s budget season again. The Meeker Board of Trustees began discussion on a draft of the 2017 proposed town budget at the Sept. 20 meeting, following a tour around town to review street maintenance and repair needs and other capital projects. According to Town Administrator Scott Meszaros, a community the size of Meeker normally budgets approximately $100,000 a year for street maintenance and repair. Meeker’s budget is frequently six to seven times that. Changing the strategy for street maintenance is one possible way to cut costs. Included in the budget draft are plans for two new water wells and a new water control system for bulk water, street repairs and maintenance, and a water line project on Water Street that may be changed or delayed depending on the progress of the proposed Outdoor Adventure Center. The draft also includes a mill levy reduction that will save taxpayers some money, and a raise for town staff that is not based on a percentage of each individual salary, but on a specific amount for all staff members. In addition, the draft budget sets aside $2.5 million for the Better City plan (which includes the Outdoor Adventure Center). Town Administrator Scott Meszaros explained that part of the Better City proposal includes a demonstration of public support when seeking private investors. “We’re looking to get as much private investment as possible,” Meszaros said. As private investors and developers come on board, the amount the town and other government entities would need to put in to the project would be reduced. “It’s a budgeted figure and a show of good faith,” Meszaros said, estimating the town would only spend $100,000 of that $2.5 million “unless things move forward differently.” The proposed budget, if everything in the draft budget was spent, would reduce the town’s fund reserve from $8.7 million to $2.2 million. The town spent an estimated $950,000 in reserves this year. The draft budget will be released for public comment next month. The board approved the Meeker Chamber’s request for funding for 2017 in the amount of $50,000 for the visitor center, tourism and community development and an additional $11,000 to cover the costs of the Main Street America program’s training requirements. Trustees agreed to waive the extra Ute Park water fees accrued by the Meeker Classic between the cattledog trials and the sheepdog trials. The water was kept on this year in an attempt to mitigate dust on the east end of the park. And the board approved a home business license application from Raymond Ashcroft to do small engine and automobile repair in his home garage at 100 Third St. In staff updates, Meeker Chief of Police Bob Hervey commended officers from the Meeker PD, Rangely PD and RBC Sheriff’s Office who worked together to capture a car thief earlier this month. “It was an excellent example of what can happen when three departments don’t fight each other, but work together,” Hervey said. The department had 220 calls for service in August.