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City gets first look at draft 2012 budget

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council got its first look at a proposed draft budget for 2012 during a finance committee meeting last Monday evening at city hall.
Beginning balances in all funds for 2012 are estimated at about $6.2 million. With projected revenues of about $5.7 million, the city will have a total of around $11.9 million in both non-restricted and restricted funds.
Expenditures for 2012 are expected to be close to $6.1 million leaving about $5.8 million in the ending fund balances for all funds. However a breakdown of each fund shows a budget that needs to be managed carefully.
The general fund, the fund that the city uses to pay for its day-to-day operations as well as salaries, shows a beginning balance for 2012 of $147,520. With revenues, the fund will show a balance of around $1.713 million and expenditures of $1.58 million. This will leave about $127,462 for the 2012 end balance.
During the evening, the finance committee worked at finding expenditures to cut in order to increase the general fund.
The cuts would allow the city to be able to face unexpected expenditures with more confidence. In the past, the city has had to deal with an emergency repair to a broken gas transmission line in 2009 and a valve replacement in the dam at Martin Lake in 2010 and part of 2011.
The gas fund will see a proposed ending balance of around $1.3 million, and the water fund will close out 2012 with an estimated $2.3 million. These funds will have beginning balances for 2012 at $2.2 million in the gas fund and at $1.3 million in the water fund. However some monies in those funds are restricted funds, such as meter deposits, which can’t be spent.
The street improvement fund will start the year with around $1.4 million and will see revenues of $321,447. Expenditures from the fund will top $1 million, thus leaving the fund with an end balance of $738,454.
The only fund to show a negative balance coming into 2012 is the Wild Waters pool fund which is projected to begin 2012 with a negative $72,000. Estimated revenues are expected to be $91,763. With spending to be around $102,759, the pool will end 2012 around $83,000 in the hole.
When the subject of budgeting funds for the Northlands district sewer project came up, the city council was divided about whether to make any more expenditures for the project or not. Council member Rick Jennings said, “The Northlands need to pay for the project because the city has spent money on it already and has seen no return. We can’t spend one more dime on this and put the citizens of Walsenburg deeper into debt.”
Council member Jim Moore countered that as soon as the grant and loan funding arrived, the funds the city has spent would be reimbursed. “The City is the only entity that those who are making the grants and loans will deal with. The general improvement district can’t apply for the grants, only the city can. We will have to spend and then we will be reimbursed.
The city’s finance committee took its first look at the proposed 2012 budget and began working on ways to trim spending and to shift items around to bring the budget more in line with the demands of the community.
The budget will have to be submitted to the state in January and the finance committee has another meeting scheduled on Monday, Nov. 14 to consider the budget and make adjustments. Budgets however, are very fluid when being built and the 2012 budget is still far from being established.