Fruita eyes dip in city revenue

The city of Fruita will take in and spend less money in 2012, largely the product of a drop in property tax revenue and the completion of a new sewage-treatment plant.

City finance officials are proposing an $18.8 million budget for next year. It would be the lowest in three years and $12.8 million less than this year.

Revenue in the city’s general fund, which subsidizes most of its day-to-day operations and services, has fallen significantly during the last few years, from $8.8 million in 2008 to a projected $6.3 million in 2012. General fund spending is expected to increase from $7.5 million last year to $8.7 million next year.

The city will bridge that $2.4 million gap by pulling money out of the fund balance in the general fund. City Clerk and Finance Director Margaret Steelman said she is not concerned about dropping the money in that fund from roughly $6 million to $3.6 million because the spending will go toward capital projects — a one-time expense — rather than personnel expenses, which are funded annually.

Fruita has budgeted $6.7 million for capital expenses next year, with the largest projects being the replacement of a sewer line underneath U.S. Highway 6 between 18 Road and Little Salt Wash ($2 million), a remodel and expansion of the police station ($1.4 million) and road improvements ($1 million).

The 2012 budget contemplates a $65,000 expenditure on a 1.5 percent pay increase for city employees. The city has 65 full-time employees and anticipates adding one full-time equivalent next year — converting a part-time police-records position to full-time and adding a part-time parks maintenance employee.

“I think we’re still on solid economic ground,” Steelman said. “We’ve obviously seen some declines in revenue, but I think we’ve also been conservative with our budgeting, so we haven’t had to do any major cuts.”


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