Fruita can afford $3.5 million in capital projects, city officials determine

Stronger than expected revenue in 2012, and an assumption that same boost will continue in 2013, are some of the reasons why Fruita’s proposed 2013 budget includes a number of significant capital projects.

The overall $19.1 million budget city staff have proposed, and council members are likely to adopt in early December, includes more than $3.5 million in new projects.

The Pine Street corridor, with the highest amount of vehicular traffic in the city, will get a needed widening next year, at a cost of $1.1 million.

More than $900,000 will fund Little Salt Wash Trail construction and additions to the Riverfront trail. More than $400,000 of parks improvements are planned.

Two water-related projects — a new sewer line at $2 million, and the decommissioning of sludge-filled former lagoons for more than $900,000 — will happen in 2013.

Also, a new Downtown Advisory board will figure out how to best spend $100,000 set aside for improvements.

Personnel costs are set to rise 5 percent, with the city’s 66 full-time employees receiving a 3 percent cost of living adjustment. The city will add one full-time position in parks, increase hours for the school resource office and   increase the on-call hours of a police investigator.

Health care costs are projected to be flat, because of a three-year agreement that will keep costs the same, but increase the deductible.

The city is budgeting for an expected decrease in severance tax,  continuing the trend, but will manage to keep sewer and irrigation rates the same as 2012. Trash collection will increase 65 cents, to $12.15 a month for single-family residences.

More broadly, Fruita has had to do some planning to make it through the past two difficult years in good economic shape.

“We’ve been fairly effective in weathering the ups and downs of the economy in the last couple of years. We were able to do that because we’ve had a strong fund balance and reserves, and money set aside,” said City Clerk and Finance Director Margaret Steelman.

“We’ve done some things the last couple of years that have drawn down on those reserves and enabled us to do some things. We need to be cognizant of that and put those items back into place for the future,” she told the council.

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