Big Projects Drive Glenwood Springs’ 2017 Budget

"A long list of big-ticket infrastructure planning and construction projects, along with a planned three-month-long bridge detour, serve as the basis for a proposed $79.8 million total Glenwood Springs city budget for next year.

 

The overall 2017 budget, all funds included, would represent a 10.7 percent increase in spending compared with this year.

However, much of the proposed spending is linked to several outstanding state and federal grant applications that may or may not come to fruition, City Manager Debra Figueroa cautioned.

'The budget includes a very healthy assumption of grant funding and spending of grant funding that we have already been awarded,' said Figueroa, who is directing her first city budget since taking the city manager’s job in June.

'If we don’t get it, we won’t spend it,' she said.

The proposed budget goes before City Council for initial approval at a special council meeting on Nov. 1, which was scheduled in place of the usual Thursday meeting next week due to a lack of a quorum on the normal meeting day.

Included in the overall budget is a $15.7 million general fund, which covers such things as police ($3.8 million), recreation ($2.4 million), streets ($1.3 million), and parks and cemetery operations ($1.1 million).

General fund spending is proposed to increase about 1.3 percent from this year. Revenue into the fund is expected to increase about 5 percent, according to the budget proposal.

The budget is largely built around 20 priorities that were identified through the City Council planning process that entailed some 11 hours of discussion over the past several weeks, Figueroa said.

Many of those priorities — from pressing forward with the river confluence, Sixth and Seventh street redevelopments to ensuring the new Eighth Street connection becomes a permanent city street after the Grand Avenue bridge detour next year — count on passage of the acquisitions and improvements special sales tax renewal that’s on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Specifically, the city has budgeted $500,000 for continued planning related to Eighth Street, and $2.5 million for the Seventh Street improvements. The latter would be dependent on receiving a $1 million state Energy Impact grant, or otherwise the project would have to be scaled back.

Priorities also include continued planning for several future transportation infrastructure projects, such as the proposed South Bridge route from Airport Road to Colorado 82, a new bridge crossing the Union Pacific Railroad tracks from Devereux Road to Midland Avenue, and redesign of the 27th Street bridge.

Several broader categories are also on the city’s priority list and could come into play in next year’s budget, including affordable/attainable housing, senior housing, and homeless/transient issues.

Another big-ticket capital item that’s in the 2017 budget is $1.25 million for additional stabilization work on the municipal operations building on Wulfsohn Road.

The city is also looking at a 3 percent merit pay increase for city workers, and plans to add nine new employees next year, Figueroa said.

Two of those new positions will be in the Fire Department, which is directly related to the planned three-month Grand Avenue bridge detour that will be in place from late August through November while the final segment of the new Colorado River bridge is being built.

'We wanted to ensure that we have full staffing during the bridge closure, including people in west Glenwood so the Fire Department will be able to respond on both sides of the bridge,' Figueroa said.

Going forward, it will depend on revenues whether those positions can be maintained after the new bridge is completed, she said.

'But it’s absolutely critical for next year,' she said.

Other new city positions will include one in the streets department to aid winter snow removal, one in the electric department, one in the broadband department, the return of a position in the finance department that was eliminated this year, and increasing a landfill position from half time to full time.

Figueroa said the city also plans to partner with the Best and Brightest Internship program for a two-year college intern in the city manager’s office, which will involve some cost to the city.

The total cost for new personnel would be $678,763, including salaries and benefits.

In addition, the city is looking at an 8 percent increase in overall employee insurance rates for the coming year. The city also plans to spend $45,000 to do a compensation study to make sure Glenwood Springs is remaining competitive in its wage structure.

Special events funding that is currently reflected in the budget includes $50,000 for continuation of the Fourth of July celebration that began this summer, and another $50,000 for some yet-to-be-determined events to help downtown businesses during the final year of the Grand Avenue bridge project."

Source: Glenwood Springs Post Independent