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Mancos town board discusses preliminary budget

Early plans include more construction spending
The Mancos water treatment plant, which is set to benefit from some of the town’s 2018 capital improvements.

The Mancos Town Board’s preliminary 2018 budget, which will be put to a vote in December, includes more spending on street improvements and other projects, but less on administration.

The board discussed the latest version of the budget at a workshop on Nov. 1. Interim town administrator Heather Alvarez said she adjusted the expected revenue and expenses to account for several major projects the town has planned for next year. The budget’s largest proposed spending increase is in the street improvement category, while the largest decreases are in administration costs.

The budget predicts a larger general fund than the town planned in the 2017 budget. Alvarez planned for about $2.3 million in revenue for next year, compared to $1.3 million in the 2017 budget. She said a large part of the extra revenue comes from a Department of Local Affairs grant the town expects to receive.

“We are pretty healthy in our general fund,” she said.

The general fund includes about $1.5 million for street improvements, up from $261,350 in the 2017 budget. That spending will include the construction of a new Main Street bridge, which is estimated to cost about $1.3 million, as well as a $111,000 street paving project. General fund money may also pay for improvements to the city’s fiber room, which Alvarez said lacks air conditioning.

Most of the budget’s proposed spending cuts come from administration costs. The general, water and sewer funds all include large decreases in spending on administration, with the largest cut coming from the water fund. Preliminary costs for that category include $351,392 in water administration, a 56 percent decrease from the $806,885 budgeted in 2017.

The board members discussed the town’s difficulty in hiring and retaining water and sewer employees. Mancos’s water plant is currently short an operator, and although Alvarez said the budget includes money to hire a new one, she called it a “dream” that probably wouldn’t happen next year.

“It seems to me that maybe we need to take a look at funding a program to attract and keep somebody,” board member Lorraine Becker said.

Alvarez said she would continue to work on a solution to the problem.

Instead of a raise for city employees, the budget includes a 3 percent merit-based bonus for those who receive good scores on their performance evaluations at the end of the year, a change several board members had recommended in previous workshops.

In addition to the bridge project, the preliminary budget also includes several other capital improvements for next year. The town hopes to install a new water plant operating system, update Boyle Park’s playground equipment and buy two new public works vehicles, along with several parks and street maintenance projects. The budget also includes tentative funding for updates to the land use code, although Alvarez said she hopes to cover those costs with a DOLA grant.

The preliminary budget may still change before the final vote in December, but board members did not raise any major concerns about the latest version during the workshop.

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