Paying more, getting less
Grand Junction residents will pay some higher fees and notice some reductions in service based on the budget that is about to go to the Grand Junction City Council.
Those changes, if approved by City Council members during a Dec. 1 meeting, will affect residents in varying degrees. The proposed budget is subject to change by the council, but a final draft is expected to be presented and adopted by Dec. 15.
City staff proposes to keep utility fees at the same levels of last year, meaning residents will see no changes on their bills for sewer, water and trash.
If revenues are healthy during the first quarter of the new year and other expected government dollars come through, the city expects to balance the total operating budget at $77.6 million. That’s down from this year’s $81.2 million operating budget.
Every city department this year has trimmed costs, and 82 jobs were eliminated in the past two years. Like a rerun of this year, employees will not receive pay raises in 2011. The city’s 631 workers also will pay more toward health insurance.
The following is a snapshot of what city residents may see in the new year:
Grand Junction Police Department:
• Range for traffic fines to increase to $72–$300. Fines ranged from $60–$250 in 2010.
• Nominal fees for records, including copies of incident reports, traffic-accident reports, VIN inspections, background checks, DVD copies. Those services were free in 2010.
Orchard Mesa Cemetery and Crown Point Cemetery in Appleton:
• Costs to open and close a grave will increase because of new requirements. Increased cost will range from $354–$1,013. Costs in 2010 were $285–$631.
Fees for Tiara Rado and Lincoln Park golf courses:
• Season passes are increasing to $92–$399. Green fees are increasing $4 for a round of 18 holes of golf, and season passes are increasing $29 a year. Passes topped out at $370, and green fees reached up to $33.75 in 2010. Grand Junction City Council members are considering offering 2011 season passes at last year’s season pass prices for those who purchase passes early.
Two Rivers Convention Center:
• Increases of between 3–5 percent on renting of all facility space and equipment.
• Increases of between 13–26 percent on rates on service-club luncheons and dinners. For example, one service-club lunch will increase from $11.50 to $13–$14.50 in 2011.
• Proposed increasing long-term meter rates to 20 cents an hour. It currently is 10 cents an hour. Grand Junction City Council members indicated they may not approve this increase and are investigating incentives for motorists to use the parking garage.
Orchard Mesa Community Pool:
• Possible reduction of summer hours, moving swimming lessons to Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool.
• Possible summer closure if revenues dip.
• Possible addition of another weekly free day. Revenues are highest on free days as more swimmers spend on concessions, the water slide and other extras.
Parks and Recreation:
• Reduction of cultural arts grant program funding by 56 percent, a cut of $23,300.
• Further reduction of recreation programs that aren’t experiencing high levels of participation or programs that aren’t recovering indirect costs.
• No planting new trees and no pruning of city’s existing 60,000 trees in rights of way.
• Mowing less frequently, and less frequent maintenance in city parks and rights of way.
• Eliminating most storm-drain cleaning except in emergencies.
• Reductions in the chip-sealing program, focused next year only on the area of North First Street and Patterson Road.
• Like 2010, no new concrete replacement and no new sidewalk construction.
• Continue with only one code-enforcement officer, down from four.
Grand Junction Police Department:
• Nine positions will be eliminated, with officers in special assignment units rerouted back to patrol duties.
• Reduced hours for property, evidence and records. In some cases, the public may have to make appointments with the Police Department to recover items taken that were used as evidence.
Grand Junction Fire Department:
• Fewer responses from hazardous-material team.
• Reductions in public education programs about fire safety.
• Nine positions eliminated, which means fewer firefighters will respond to some large calls.