Rangely Town Council talks budget for 2018

RANGELY | The Rangely Town Council gathered for a preliminary budget work session and a short regular meeting on Tuesday night.
The council is currently working through their 2018 budget, which they expect to complete sometime in early November.
The water department is not anticipating any change in 2018 revenue. A retiring employee will not be replaced, allowing for a budget reduction. The department has requested a $25,000 contingency fund. The waste water treatment plant is expecting both an increase in revenue and expenses while the raw water fund is not anticipating any major changes. However, there is the potential for a project in conjunction with the county to get raw water to Columbine Park for landscaping purposes.
Brixius said he anticipates changes in state regulations that would require the water treatment plant to be radically redone. The updated plants are estimated to cost $8-12 million.
The utilities department is expecting $82,000 in capital improvements such as gas line replacements. However, the town is hopeful that a portion of the cost will be covered by grants. Revenues in the department are expected to decrease. According to Brixius, commercial and residential utility hook ups are down 3.6 percent since 2014. The town is not currently considering any raise in utility prices.
The RDA has an anticipated revenue of $143,000. Of that, $30,000 is a direct transfer from the town general fund.
The total town personnel budget, excluding seasonal employees and including three currently vacant positions across the town departments, is $2.395 million, with benefits and taxes. It includes no wage increases, however there was a benefits cost increase. Council member Andy Shaffer expressed a desire to see the numbers if a cost of living wage increase were given to town employees. The consumer price index, which typically guides cost of living increases suggests a 3 percent increase in cost of living is expected in 2018. Providing that increase would cost the town an additional $46,000. The last wage increase was in 2016. The council agreed to think about their options before the final budget decision.
The town anticipates having spent $875,000 on the Town Hall remodel, which is nearing completion. $660,000 of the funding was provided by two separate grants. The project was estimated to cost $1.2 million.
Brixius is hopeful that the asbestos abatement program will come to fruition in 2018. They have budgeted $72,000 for training and two projects. The cost could be reduced if Meeker and the county decide to participate in the program.
Councilwoman Lisa Hatch expressed gratitude to the departments for their work on reducing their expenses and being conscious of budget constraints.
The police department budget for 2017 was $891,787. The department is not anticipating any major changes in 2018.
The town is planning an economic development summit hosted by the regional Department of Local Affairs representative. The goal will be to bring together both the Rangely Development Authority and the Rangely Town Council. The meeting will likely occur next month.
The town building inspector resigned last week. Town Manager Peter Brixius is hopeful that the Town Hall project will be primarily completed before the inspector is gone. Brixius discussed the potential of trying to contract with Rio Blanco County for inspector services.
The council briefly discussed the need to create a comprehensive 10-year plan which councilman Andy Key said would help with long term budget planning and give more direction to the economic development goals.
County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola updated the council on the missing person case and thanked the fire and police departments for their assistance with the search. Mazzola also praised House Bill 12-20 which limits the amount of marijuana that can be grown in a residence to 12 plants.
Police Chief Vince Wilczeck introduced police department trainee Max Becker and his wife, Nicole, whose father was the former Rangely police chief.
Rio Blanco County Emergency Management Planner Ty Gates answered questions about the Hazard Mitigation Plan which he is currently applying for a grant to create. The plan has not been updated since 2003 and will require both state and FEMA approval. According to Gates if a natural disaster were to occur and Rangely did not have a mitigation plan the town would not be eligible for FEMA funds. The estimated cost is $48,000. The county has agreed to fund $5,000, Meeker has contributed $1,000. Rangely agreed to contribute $1,000.