City budget of $158.3M is 13% boost

After series of lean years, a draft 2018 budget for the City of Grand Junction is showing some bright spots, coming in at nearly 13 percent higher than the 2017 budget.

The city is working from a $140.5 million budget this year, but it is expecting an increase of nearly $18 million or a total budget of $158.3 million next year. Those numbers include a nearly $900,000 surplus, which members of the Grand Junction City Council can decide how to spend.

The 2018 budget assumes a 1 percent growth in sales tax revenue, which is conservative, Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton said. Last year’s 2017 budget projections did not assume any sales tax revenue increases.

Sales tax revenues have increased an average of 7.5 percent in the past five months, Caton told members of the Grand Junction City Council. Caton presented the budget document during a workshop Monday night.

“Because of the economy we’ve had seven bad years and five good months,” he said, explaining the reason for the hopeful, yet conservative 1 percent growth projections.

Some spending plans in 2018 include:

■ Adding 10 new public safety positions, six at the Grand Junction Fire Department and four at Grand Junction Police Department.

■ Adding a traffic team at the police department with the installation of new officers.

■ Adding a temporary emergency medical services station staffed by the Grand Junction Fire Department at Grand Junction’s north end.

■ Replacing and purchasing specialized public safety equipment.

■ Increasing maintenance and street construction by 70 percent to a total of $6 million, thanks to April’s voter approved 3B bond measure.

■ Increasing the annual economic development contribution by nearly half, to more than $5.3 million.

■ Of that $5.3 million total, nearly $2 million is slated for partnerships with Grand Junction’s Downtown Development Authority for Las Colonias Business Park and construction of anchor tenant Bonsai Design. It also includes improvements at Two Rivers Convention Center.

The 2018 budget is looking up after the city trimmed back the 2017 budget near the end of 2016.

The city trimmed 25 positions, placed a hold on replacing some public safety equipment, deferred purchases and limited some travel and training for employees. Other savings in 2017 came from outsourcing management of the Two Rivers Convention Center and the Avalon Theatre to Pinnacle Venue Services, the city’s budget packet said.

The 2018 budget includes 627 employees, more than half of whom serve in public safety fields.

Employees can expect to pay 10 percent more on health care insurance next year, but the city is looking to other options like clinics, self-funding or modifications to the health plan to manage increasing costs. Employees may be able to earn performance-based raises next year. The city is adding Martin Luther King Day as an observed holiday and the city is reinstating its education benefits, allowing employees to receive partial or full reimbursement for some job-related college coursework.

The Grand Junction City Council is expected to take another look at the proposed budget during an Oct. 16 public meeting, before it heads for adoption at a future public hearing.


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