NEW CASTLE, Colorado - A relatively small part of the town's budget, but representing a large thank you, will be $1,000 paid to Mike Miller, the local man who for about two decades has voluntarily taken care of the old Highland Cemetery on the north side of town.
"We're finally going to give Mike Miller a modest amount for his, I think it's 20 years of service at the cemetery," announced Mayor Frank Breslin on Tuesday, discussing the plan to pay Miller out of the 2012 budget. "We owe him a big debt of gratitude."
The stipend came up at the council's regular meeting on Tuesday night, during discussion of the proposed budget for 2013, which projects revenues of approximately $2.6 million and expenses of approximately $2.8 million.
Finance director Lyle Layton acknowledged that the budget represents deficit spending for 2013, with a gap of approximately $200,000 between revenues and expenditures.
To make up the difference, the town will dip into its "undesignated reserves" of about $804,000, said Layton.
During the budget discussion, Layton indicated that Miller can expect next year to receive at least as much the 2012 stipend, and probably more.
"We can probably cut a check to him for $1,000 this year, and more next year," Layton told the town council, shortly before the councilors adopted the 2013 budget with little debate.
Breslin, at the council meeting, noted that the town has called for "a lot of discretionary spending this year," which he said will include money spent on recreation projects and programs as well as infrastructure.
One big project, he said, is the planned series of three pedestrian bridges to span the railroad tracks just south of town, the interstate highway beyond the tracks, and the Colorado River.
The town had earmarked $100,000 toward the $2 million bridge project, and Town Manager Tom Baker said Garfield County has committed a total of $1 million toward the project over the next two years.
In addition, Breslin said, the town hopes to get contributions from one or more energy companies that operate in the area.
"They are increasing the need for safety [improvements] for that interchange," Breslin said, explaining that gas drilling traffic coming off I-70 has heightened the need for the pedestrian bridge as a safe way for bicyclists and pedestrians to get to the south side of the river.
The town council agreed to a 2 percent raise for town employees, which Layton said will cost the town approximately $37,000.
And the council has earmarked $15,000 for New Castle's upcoming 125th anniversary celebration.
In other action the council:
• Gave a commendation for outstanding service to New Castle Police Officer Tim Klintworth. While off duty one recent day, he used his personal vehicle to keep a dog from attacking two residents.
• Accepted a gift of 2.8 acres of land near the Lakota fire station, from the Warrior Acquisitions LLC.
• Reduced the speed limit on Castle Valley Boulevard from 35 miles per hour to 30 mph, except for the school zone near Kathryn Senor Elementary School, where the speed limit is 20 mph.