Breckenridge to examine budget
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Town Council members will spend the next several weeks examining the proposed 2004 budget, which, if approved as written, would allocate $32.493 million to town projects and departments.The proposed amount is a bare-bones figure gathered from the town’s various department heads, who the town council asked to make cuts wherever possible when submitting their budgets. The figure represents a modest 2 percent increase over this year’s budget of about $30.9 million, said Town Manager Tim Gagen.A recent audit indicated Breckenridge is still doing well financially, particularly because of fund balances and millions of dollars it has in “lock boxes” for future and emergency uses. At the end of December, the town is expected to have a fund balance of $10.4 million in its general fund and $2.95 million in the excise tax fund.That fund, however, could become exhausted by 2012 if current revenue and expense trends continue. According to the proposed budget, the town estimates it will take in an average of 3 percent more revenue each year between 2005 and 2016. But while capital expenses are projected to remain steady at $2 million a year, operating expenditures are expected to increase by an average of 5 percent a year.The town will pay off debt owed on the construction of the first 18 holes of the golf course this year, and the first phase of the recreation center next year. But other debt looms, including the new nine holes at the golf course, the ice arena and the purchase of Cucumber Gulch and two in-town buildings.Additionally, the town has plans to renovate Main Street once Highway 9 is moved to Park Avenue and spend money on the cultural arts district, the Riverwalk Center and other public amenities in upcoming years.Plus, the town and county must come up with $9 million next year to complete the sale of the 1,800-acre B&B Mines land northeast of town. That open space will be used for an array of recreational activities and historic interpretations.The largest allocation is $12.5 million for personnel, including salaries and health benefits. Capital outlay will eat up an additional $7.8 million, $2.2 million will be spent to cover debt and $1.4 million will be spent on materials and supplies.By department, the largest chunk of money – $4.57 million – will be spent in public works and engineering. Much of that money is spent to maintain more than 90 miles of streets, remove snow, maintain local parks and the town cemetery, install signs and handle an array of other duties.Major projects next year will include the completion of a water tank at the north end of town, replacing a water line in the Weisshorn neighborhood, repairing the Goose Pasture Tarn dam spillway chute and preliminary work on a new water storage facility.Citizens also can expect to see an array of capital improvements made throughout town in the future. On the “A” list, projects include expanding the transit fleet shop, engineering work for a new police facility, planning the transit center and building a roundabout at North Park Avenue and Main Street. Some of those projects have already obtained grant money from the state.The town also estimates it will need $1.4 million in the open space fund for land acquisitions, the implementation of nature programs, continued monitoring of water quality in Cucumber Gulch and additions to the town’s trail system.An additional $2.6 million will be spent on recreation, which includes the cost of operating the recreation center, ice rink and Gold Run Nordic Center.The golf course, which ran about $165,000 short of its budget this summer due to a 50-70 percent decrease in group travel, will likely need another infusion of cash from the town next year, Gagen said.Another $793,090 will be spent on executive and management salaries and benefits for eight full-time and five part-time employees. Other expenditures in that category pay for supplies, events and communications and minor capital projects. Additionally, the town attorney will receive a $207,600 salary to represent the town in lawsuits and hearings and to prepare ordinances, resolutions, contracts and other legal documents.The town also anticipates spending $1.6 million on parking and transit.”This is a flat budget,” Gagen said. “We’re at bare bones. But we’ve survived the drought and fires, and we came out of it all fairly healthy.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.
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