City of Rifle’s reserves to help cover higher budget for 2023

Projected numbers show Rifle’s 2023 budget going 36% higher than last year, a city administrator said.

“Anyone looking at that, it’s going to cause you to gasp a little bit,” he said. “But there’s some very good reasons why it’s much higher.”

During a presentation to Rifle City Council on Oct. 5, numbers crunched by City Finance Director, Scott Rust, show 2023’s budget surpassing this year’s by about $11.6 million. The total proposed Rifle budget for 2023 is roughly $43.7 million. 

Rifle’s estimated total reserves sit at about $42.7 million. 

“We’re in a good position, fiscally,” Rust said.

The city right now is in the midst of major infrastructure projects. Capital investments include having a hand in revamping the RFTA Park and Ride for $2.98 million, $6 million to improve the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Whiteriver Avenue, and spending more than $1 million on an HVAC system for city hall and more.

Rust also noted that $2.4 million in America Rescue Plan Act funds allotted to Rifle is increasing the city’s budget in 2023.

Rust said factors like supply chain issues and inflation are prompting the city to be a little flexible with its projections.

When it comes to revenue, the city is conservatively estimating sales tax coming in 4% over the adopted 2022 budget. City documents show year-to-date sales tax for 2022 is $3.12 million compared to about $3 million this same time in 2021.

Reasons behind conservative estimates are based on the city not having an exact gauge on whether the economy is heading into stagnation or recession, Rust said. 

“I expect sales tax to outpace what we budgeted,” he said.

Next year’s budget also is being used to pay off some major debt issuances. Rust said funds will be set aside to pay off the Rifle Metro pool construction and three additional debt issuances in the water fund. 

Rust also pointed out other key expenditures that the city took on as part of its strategic plan, which highlights goals like quality of life, economic development and organizational development.

Trying to become a top employer of choice, the city recently voted to increase salaries and wages while taking on more costs for insurance. This means the total payroll budget is likely to increase from about $10.4 million in 2022 to about $11.23 million in 2023.

“We definitely have some expenditures coming in the next year,” Rust said. 

Rust said the plan next is to hold public hearings for the 2023 budget on Nov. 2 and Nov. 16. The budget is likely to be adopted by Rifle City Council on Nov. 16.

A mill levy certification comes before Rifle City Council also on Nov. 16. 


Note: Expenditures from city documents do not include all costs.

  • Park and Ride, $2.98 million
  • White River Intersection, $4.5 million in 2023; $1.5 million in 2024
  • Street preventative maintenance, $750,000
  • Final remodel items for city hall, $1 million
  • IT improvements across city departments, $1.2 million
  • IT capital projects, $189,000
  • Grand Hogback Trail System additions, $350,000
  • Skinner Field lights, $300,000
  • Museum parking lot improvements, $78,000
  • Improvements to Ute Theater, $157,000 
  • Improvements to West Second Street
  • Remediation of old water plant
  • Equipment replacement, beatification of Rifle Island, Interstate 70 Gateway 

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