Council OKs $146 million budget for 2013

Colorado Mesa University, the Avalon Theatre and the addition of 13 new city employees are a few of the big winners in Grand Junction’s 2013 budget.

City councilors approved a total $145.8 million budget, which is less than 2012’s budget of $154 million.

CMU is set to receive $500,000 more than last year, or a total of $1 million in 2013. The money is dedicated to acquiring homes to help the university’s westward expansion and the creation of a new academic building.

Councilors also this year approved $3 million for renovations to the Avalon Theatre. The 13 new hires, increases to city worker salaries and increased health insurance costs will run $1.2 million.

All seven councilors approved passage of the budget. However, Councilor Sam Susuras said he did not agree with all the expenditures, especially because councilors had to dedicate $2 million in reserve funds to balance the budget.

Councilors had a roughly $20 million reserve fund.

Susuras said he didn’t feel comfortable with some expenditures because the economy is still shaky. He would have preferred to see more money dedicated to street repairs. Councilors initially wanted to dedicate $5 million to repairs, but now only $2.5 million will be spent on roads in 2013.

“We’re struggling to balance this budget as it is,” he said.

In general, the city expects to spend $9.1 million on transportation projects. That will include $3.4 million for an interchange upgrade to accommodate two new truck stops at Interstate 70 and Exit 26.

Councilor Teresa Coons said she is pleased that the budget supports a variety of cultural improvements and investments in basic construction projects, investments the city has cut back on in leaner years.

“This year we put back a lot of spending for capital projects that will put people to work,” Coons said.

In general, the city of Grand Junction expects to spend $6.1 million on labor costs, $25.7 million on operating expenses, a total of $31.8 million on capital projects, $14.4 million internally on technology, vehicles, insurance and dispatch and $12.8 million paying off debts.


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