A nearly $40 million budget for 2013 was adopted by Rifle City Council on Dec. 5 that continues to hold the line on spending, as the local economy struggles to recover.The budget process started in August, said Finance Director Charles Kelty, with several City Council workshops to go over each department's funding plan for the coming year. Two public budget hearings were held on Nov. 7 and Nov. 19.Council voted 5-0, with Councilman Alan Lambert absent and Councilman Rich Carter abstaining, to approve the budget resolution, appropriation ordinance and resolutions certifying the city and Downtown Development Authority mill levies. Carter did not vote to avoid a potential conflict of interest in the coming year.Included in the budget is the transfer of $714,000 in city funds from various departments to complete the renovation and remodeling of the New Ute Events Center in downtown Rifle. Carter, an architect who has done some work for the project backers, the New Ute Theatre Society, could end up doing more work in the coming year, so abstained from voting.The city code required at least five councilmembers to approve the transfer of money from the city's capital reserve fund for the project. The city plans to use $1.24 million from that fund and federal mineral leasing funds, a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, $228,000 in other grants, $13,766 from the city visitor improvement fund, $10,000 from the DDA budget and $200,000 from the information center budget to finish the $1.9 million renovation and remodeling of the center.One Rifle resident, Troy Phillips, addressed council on the funding of the project."My concern is the city staying within its means," he said. "If the money is there to address this without adverse impacts to any other city department, or city employees, then we should do it. If we can't afford it, it shouldn't go forward."Sales tax projectionsIn an interview on Tuesday, Dec. 11, Kelty said he estimated a five percent increase in sales tax revenue for the coming year, which would generate nearly $6.8 million for the general fund, parks and recreation department, information center and street improvement fund. That total would compare to this year's estimate of $6.4 million in sales tax revenue and does not include around $1.5 million in sales tax revenue from the voter-approved 3/4 of a cent sales tax hike to help pay for a new water treatment plant in the next several years."October is looking like we'll be down by about nine percent from the same month last year," Kelty noted of the next sales tax report to the city council. "That would still put us ahead of projections for the first ten months of the year, but only by .4 percent."Mill levies setThe 2012 assessed valuation for the city of Rifle, as certified by the Garfield County assessor, is $125.5 million. To help meet general operating expenses of the city during 2013, a tax of 5.261 mills is levied on each dollar of the total valuation of all taxable property in the city. Kelty said that should generate more than $660,000 in property tax revenue for the city, about a one percent increase over this year's budget.The 2012 assessed valuation for the Rifle Downtown Development Authority is $13.9 million. To meet general operating expenses of the DDA during 2013, a tax of 3.774 mills is levied upon each dollar of total valuation of all taxable property within the authority. Kelty said that is estimated to bring in close to $53,000 in property tax revenue for the authority, a more than five percent increase over this year's budget."The revenue changes are due to the swing in assessed values, our mill levies have stayed the same," Kelty noted.Council also approved a resolution and an ordinance amending the 2012 city budget to reflect actual revenue.
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