City may reinstate, add jobs in coming year

Reinstating city positions that went away with the economic downturn and funding alternatives for a Colorado Mesa University project were a couple of the items touched on during the Grand Junction City Council’s budget discussions Monday.

“2013 is a very capital-intense year,” said City Manager Rich Englehart during the overview of the council’s regular workshop.

In total, 13 new and re-established positions are in the proposed budget. These include two police officers and jobs in administration, parks and recreation, utilities and the fire department.

There has been about a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue and a modest property tax revenue increase, city officials said.

The council was divided on exactly how to pay the requested $7 million to help Colorado Mesa University fund a second academic building, but members agreed that payments over time is the best option. Possibilities included a range of 14 to 28 years.

Although they cannot commit future councils to make the payments, council members and CMU President Tim Foster didn’t feel that this “handshake agreement” would be threatened.

Starting in the 1990s, the City Council began giving the university $250,000 annually for property acquisition. That amount doubled about five years ago. This project will likely mean an additional $250,000 to $500,000.

“We need to keep in mind that his (Foster) goal is to keep tuition down,” said Mayor Pro Tem Laura Luke, who is a proponent of stretching the payments over more time to free money for other projects.

Another area council members have discussed throughout budget season is street maintenance. Likely to be allocated are $2 million to $2.5 million.

Money set aside for the Pear Park Fire Station, the Avalon Theatre renovation and 22 Road realignment at U.S. Highway 6 were other highlights in the budget.

When looking at recreation projects related to economic development, the city plans to bid on the USA Pro Cycling event in the next few weeks and has written a letter of intent to commit $10,000 to a pro mountain bike race that would be held at the Lunch Loop Trails.

“That’s looking very good,” Englehart told council members about the possible mountain bike race.

Additionally, Councilman Jim Doody advocated doubling the amount of money given to the Western Slope Center for Children, an organization that provides services to child sexual abuse victims, making it $20,000. He received positive feedback from the rest of the council present.

Councilman Tom Kenyon said, “An additional amount makes a lot of sense to me. … That’s a cause we can all support.”


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