November hearing for Rangely budget

RANGELY I The town of Rangely is near completion of the budget for 2011 and will schedule a public hearing Nov. 9 in order to accept the budget and certify the tax levies.
Each of the three budget cycles have gotten increasingly more challenging with the changes to our economic environment.
As with the previous year’s budget plan, the town is once again adopting a budget with no salary increases in 2011. This means the town will again hold the line on any cost of living increases or merit increases. We have yet to see a firm quote on health insurance costs, but in 2009 as we prepared the 2010 budget, we were able to modify the plan parameters and keep health benefits cost increases near zero percent. We will again look at varying plan options in order to minimize any increases in 2011.
We are proposing general fund operating expenditures of $2,604,624 for 2011 with a general fund reserve of 1.95 years based on current expenditure levels. Capital expenditures within the general fund will be solely dependent on the stability of revenue sources and the potential impact from November’s ballot initiatives.
The town of Rangely also manages three enterprise funds, which include the Gas Department Fund, Water Department Fund and the Wastewater Department Fund. Gas fund expenditures are proposed at $1,396,260 with .87 years of operating capital in reserve. The Water Fund, which includes the raw water system and the distribution system, is proposing operating expenditures for 2011 of $766,722 and the wastewater fund is proposing operating expenditures of $284,097. Both of these funds have very limited cash reserves with aging infrastructure. The town will be asking the citizens for an increase in water fees and wastewater fees in 2011. The per-thousand-gallon-cost of water for residential residents will increase from $2.77 to $3.25 and the base monthly fee will increase from $12.09 to $13.30/month once implemented. Residential wastewater base rate will increase from $25.35 to $26.62 once implemented.
These increases are being proposed to meet state and federal requirements for the discharge of waste by 2013 and to deal with the increasing need for repair and maintenance of our water treatment plant and distribution system. With the recent completion of the Water Treatment Plant Master Planning process, it was determined that the current facility will need approximately $4 million in modifications, replacement parts and equipment to properly retrofit the plant for the next 25 to 30 years. During the next three to four years we will be working to finance and modify the plants in order to achieve the goal of providing uninterrupted water supply and a compliant waste water treatment facility.
The biggest concern for next year is what the state may do with revenue sources that the town relies on for infrastructure improvements and to a degree general operating expenditures. Rangely is heavily reliant on severance and federal mineral lease direct payments and grant funding. The governor has already announced for 2010 and 2011 that the grant funds are being swept into the state’s general fund and there is a fear that the governor may be looking to take the direct payment. For Rangely and many other communities this would be extremely serious and since that payment does not occur until August, it leaves many of our capital projects such as road improvements, sidewalks, waterline and sewer line improvements up in the air. Our 2011 budget represents revenues with the direct payment included. Should things change we are going to hold late into the season in 2011 before starting key projects. Obviously, this puts some stress on equipment and manpower as we backload our capital projects for 2011.
The town of Rangely has been awarded a CCITF grant by Rio Blanco County in the amount of $62,000, which will be applied to new heating and air-conditioning units at White River Village. This project is expected to commence in the spring of 2011. The town is also working closely with the Rangely Chamber of Commerce and hopes to help with the expansion of hours at the chamber’s office in 2011 in order to enhance the coordination of activities and businesses as we work to promote Rangely.