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Dolores passes $2.2 million town budget

In 2023, Dolores will tear down Town Hall and move into a more modern office building on Central Avenue. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Main project for 2023 is moving into a new Town Hall, tearing down the old hall

Dolores has some big plans for the New Year.

The $2.18 million budget includes funding for remodeling a new Town Hall and demolition of the old one.

The town will also continue planning for a major water system upgrade, install emergency sirens, continue a workforce housing project, and improve Dolores River access and habitat.

Total expenditures are $2,186,00, and estimated total revenues are $1,158,103. To balance the budget, the town will dip into its reserve fund, which totals $2.5 million.

Budget highlights

The town was awarded a $375,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs to remodel the new Town Hall at 601 Central Ave. The project will begin this year.

Of the funding, $100,000 will go toward demolishing the old Town Hall, and the space will be turned into a community plaza as part of Flanders Park.

In 2022, the town board voted to purchase the recently remodeled, more modern office building for $379,000 after a study found the costs to repair and upgrade the current Town Hall would be $1.5 million.

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The existing Town Hall was tested for asbestos and found positive, so the town will advertise for asbestos remediation work and apply for a brownfield cleanup grant from Colorado Department of Health and Environment to help fund the project. The town has also set aside $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project.

The town was awarded a grant from FEMA for $37,387 for new emergency sirens so that it can be better prepared for events like wildfires or floods. The town will work with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Dolores Fire Protection District, which will contribute $10,000 each.

For 2023, the town plans to spend $170,925 for park maintenance and improvements, up from $147,502 in 2022, a 15% increase.

Additionally, the Parks Department will implement a Fishing is Fun River Project in summer to improve river access and was awarded a $53,250 grant in 2022 for the project.

Wages increase

The 2023 budget includes a 4% increase in wages. Employee health insurance costs increased by 4%. Town staffing remains the same as in 2022 and includes four public works employees, a seasonal summer park employee, a part-time building inspector, attorney and treasurer, and a full-time clerk, assistant clerk and town manager.

Staff salaries and benefits are paid out of the general, streets, water and sewer funds and will be $774,908 in 2023, which represents 36% of the town's annual expenses.

Sales tax revenues grows

The main source of revenue for the general fund is from the 3.5% sales taxes, which have continued to increase year to year.

In 2022, sales tax revenue was $843,416, up from $815,876 in 2021, a 3% increase.

The 2021 sales tax revenue was 29% higher from the 2020 total of $632,251, which was a 30% increase from the 2019 total of $458,144.

“We anticipate this trend to continue as the state and region experience growth in tourism and regional growth,” the budget states.

Sheriff contract

The General Fund budget includes the Montezuma County Sheriff Office contract for $220,000. The contract requires the sheriff to provide for two deputies an average of 80-hours per week of directly committed patrol service within the town.

New in 2022 was the addition of a third deputy for part-time summer duty, special events, or daily operations, which will continue into 2023. The full sheriff’s contract can be reviewed on the town website.

Water and sewer rate increases

Water and sewer rates will increase in 2023. Financial assistance will be available for low-income residents.

The town stated that the water and sewer funds are no longer breaking even like and are operating at a loss, requiring the use of funding from reserves to meet operational expenses.

The Town Board of Trustees voted to approve a multiyear increase in base water and sewer rates starting in January 2023 to help cover the continual inflation of operating costs and to keep some funds in reserve for future infrastructure projects.

Other budgeted items
  • The town has budgeted $394,735 for graveling and chip sealing and dust retardant on street surfaces.
  • The town will seek grant funding to finance the replacement of 50-year-old water lines on the west side of town that have eroded and are undersized.
  • A workforce housing project will continue into 2023. The town has donated three properties for affordable housing and hired a contractor to plan and construct the homes. A task force has also been formed. Planning is funded by a $20,000 DOLA grant and a town match of $10,000.
  • The town has budgeted $40,000 for the water treatment plant to repair the leaking roof and address other issues with the building. The town also is budgeting for some small repairs to the water plant, such as a installing a turbidity monitor and cleaning the water tanks.