No raises for GJ city employees

Much like private sector workers in recent years, Grand Junction’s 631 city employees will not be getting raises next year and they will be paying more toward health care premiums.

Much of the city’s 2011 budget projections are in flux, pending November ballot measures and difficult-to-predict sales tax collections. But the city’s best-case scenario, a budget of $74.2 million, reflects stable or little growth in revenue in 2011 and calls for freezing wages where they are after a 3 percent cut at the beginning of this year. No full-time positions will be added to the city work force.

Last year, the city paid 85 percent of health care costs, with employees picking up 15 percent, at an average price of $832.52 a year to employees. Next year, employees will pick up 22 percent of health care costs with the city paying 78 percent.

“This will be more in line with other markets,” Grand Junction City Manager Laurie Kadrich said at a workshop Monday.

No major cutbacks to services or rate increases for services will result if the best-case budget model comes to pass.

Regardless of budget, the city will look at increasing fees at its golf courses and at increasing fees for other recreational programs. Next year, the city will not renew its contribution to the Mesa Land Trust or the Grand Junction Housing Authority. Last year, the Land Trust received $4,340, and the Housing Authority received $170,000.

A best-case budget model could be upset by a number of factors, including the cancellation or reduction of payments to the city from federal mineral leasing revenue and state severance tax revenue from energy companies, Kadrich said.

In 2010, the city of Grand Junction has received distributions of about $601,000 from federal mineral leasing revenue and almost $172,000 from state severance tax revenue, according to the state Department of Local Affairs website.

The worst-case budget model, or $58.6 million in revenue, would be expected if voters approve Amendments 61 and 62 and Proposition 101. Either of the latter two models would result in no city contribution next year for the Small Business Incubator, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Mesa State College or Grand Valley Transit.

A worst-case scenario also may have Grand Junction City Council members asking residents whether they want to pay for streetlight usage. Streetlights in Grand Junction are owned by Xcel. If the city decided it couldn’t afford the $1.4 million a year to operate the lights, Xcel could remove the lights at a further cost to the city. Other fees under the third budget model may include direct costs to residents for street improvements.

“Under all budget models there’s going to be no wage increases,” Kadrich said. “It looks like it’s going to be a new reality for us.”


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