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Glenwood City Council takes first look at 2021 budget

Glenwood Springs Post Independent news graphic

At a Glenwood Springs City Council work session on the 2021 budget Thursday afternoon, councilors expressed concern about reserves being drawn down.

City Public Works director Matt Langhorst handled most of the presentation.

During Langhorst’s discussion of the Street Tax Fund, councilor Shelley Kaup asked about dipping further into reserves.

Langhorst replied that if sales tax drops no more than 10% from the 2020 budget, the city will not dip further into reserves.

Councilor Rick Voorhees observed that street tax reserves have been chipped away from $2.1 million at the end of 2019 to a projected $884,000 at the beginning of 2021.

He later said, “We should engage the community in understanding that there’s a real cost to running down reserves.”

Breaking out reserves

Councilors had trouble understanding fund reserve balances when looking at the draft plan.

When Langhorst said that he didn’t want reserves to get lower than $3 million in the water/wastewater fund, councilor Paula Stepp said, “The reserves look like $30 million, not $3 million.”

City chief operating officer Steve Boyd said that the reserves include assets, so there isn’t as much to spend as it seems.

Mayor Jonathan Godes suggested breaking the reserves into restricted, unrestricted and cash to make it easier to understand.

Red Mountain South

Langhorst referred to road and waterline work at Red Mountain South as a “significant” project. With a $750,000 contribution from the Street Tax Fund and $1 million from Water, Sewer and Sanitation, the project totals $1.75 million.

Mayor Jonathon Godes questioned prioritizing Red Mountain work over Blake Avenue work related to the Bell Rippy development near Walmart.

“Red Mountain has been planned for a long time. Bell Rippy is the straw that stirs the drink. Did you give any thought to delaying Red Mountain further and focusing on Bell Rippy?” he asked.

Langhorst said that the 2022 budget will have more Bell Rippy work. 

“We’re in conversation with the Bell Rippy developers about what they’re going to do,” he said.

Trouble paying bills

Kaup asked Boyd how the city is handling people who are having trouble paying their bills due to COVID and if there are a lot of them.

“We’re not shutting anybody off. If someone calls us we always work with them. We haven’t seen too many,” Boyd said. 

Rate study

Councilor Charlie Willman said that 2021 revenues could be higher than projected.

“We’re in a rate study for water rates. That could change revenues for 2021,” he said.

“We’ll be bringing [the study] to you. 2021 will be a hard year for coming out of COVID. The rate study is to find a way to pay for projects without using reserves,” Langhorst said.

Water supply

Kaup wanted to know where in the budget is planning for the city water supply into the future.

Langhorst said that capital improvement projects are securing the city’s water supply. 

“We’re looking at the raw water pump station in Park West,” he said. “There have been discussions about how long the water treatment plan will last as well.”

Broadband

Voorhees asked Langhorst if the city is staffed up for broadband.

“Right now we’re good. We will have to hire an accounts representative. We’ve had lots of interest. We’re not totally staffed up, but we’re staffed where we need to be now,” Langhorst said.

Boyd said that starting Jan. 1, broadband will be a standalone enterprise fund.

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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