The city of Rifle will have to dip into reserves to balance the 2013 general fund once again, although overall spending and projected revenue are expected to be nearly flat.
That was among the messages City Council received from City Manager John Hier and Finance Manager Charles Kelty at the first of two budget public hearings on Nov. 7.
The second hearing is scheduled for Nov. 19, and the 2013 city spending plan is to be adopted on Dec. 5.
Hier said the general fund - the city's largest - is projected to receive $7.5 million in revenues and have $8.3 million in expenditures. Both figures are about 1 percent above this year's expected year-end figures, he added.
"We really have to get this fund out of deficit spending in the near future," Hier said. "But this next year, we expect to have to use about $409,000 in reserves to deficit spend."
The city expects a year-end general fund budget balance of $2.9 million next year, he added.
Kelty said the city will pay off the debt service on the public safety building constructed several years ago to save money on interest.
"All the city's budgets have really been squeezed over the last several years," Hier continued. "Overall, we've cut 20 percent or more in every department since 2008, we've eliminated some positions through attrition and just haven't filled others. We've frozen wages for all employees, and that has continued."
The two biggest departments in the general fund are the police - $2.3 million - and streets - $1 million - Hier said.
"We don't have any major purchases except a police vehicle and a street sweeper," he added.
Other, smaller funds include the street improvement fund, which gets its money from a half-cent sales tax approved by voters several years ago, Hier said. It calls for $1.4 million in expenditures and includes a $300,000 grant from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District to help design a third roundabout at the Rifle I-70 interchange, he noted.
The city's capital reserve fund has a balance of $4 million, accumulated over the last several years, Hier said. It has no designated funding source.