Draft Palisade budget proposes cuts

Like other municipalities in the Grand Valley, the town of Palisade is feeling the pinch as it puts together its 2017 budget.

In general, revenues mostly derived from sales taxes, continue to remain flat or are declining, while expenses are going up, Town Manager Rich Sales said. The town’s department heads worked on ways to trim about $500,000 to present a balanced budget and came up with a $3.1 million budget, Sales said.

In the coming weeks, Palisade’s trustees will be tasked with whether to restore some of the proposed cuts and cut elsewhere or work on another way to balance the budget. Trustees decided at their Tuesday night meeting to gather in an upcoming workshop and further hammer out the details.

“It was pretty painful,” Sales said, about putting together the document. “We wanted to show you the numbers, that it’s really tight this year.”

To whittle down expenses, town officials proposed a list of cuts and ideas to cancel or postpone some capital projects.

Some of the cost-cutting measures include:

■ Not hiring a recreation staff position; not hiring and not refilling two part-time positions for emergency medical services; and not hiring three seasonal staff members who typically work in the public works department. And not increasing a part-time code enforcement position to a permanent full time position. Some trustees said they wanted to further look at this last option, possibly finding a way to bring the code enforcement position to full time.

■ Not offering merit pay increases for Palisade town staff members. Palisade has offered small pay increases for employees for at least the past few years.

Reducing travel and training budgets for staff, except for trustees. Training and travel is still approved to meet safety and certification requirements. Also, a plan has been abandoned to improve the sound system in the trustee’s chambers.

■ Negotiating with its internet technology providers to reduce costs.

■ Not replacing computers on schedule, and only budgeting for a few replacement computers in case of breakdowns.

■ Not installing key card access improvements to city hall and the community center. Also, eliminating a small renovation plan for the community center.

■ Eliminating or using a capital fund reserve budget for $200,000 in street and sidewalk improvements planned for Iowa Street.

■ Having discussions on increasing water fees.

Sales said town staff balanced the budget without resorting to laying off staff, but staff members will be expected to take on more duties as other positions will not be filled.

“They’re going to have to pick up the load and work harder and get no pay increase,” he said.

Trustee Thea Chase said while the budget projections look thin, the town is working on some exciting projects for next year. She also lamented having employees take the brunt of budgetary woes.

“I personally have a hard time putting the oil and gas slowdown and the economy decrease on the backs of our staff,” she said.


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