WALSENBURG — Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night heard a brief overview of the 2014 draft audit from Russell White of RubinBrown, the city’s long-time auditor, who said the municipality, again this year, had a clean opinion of financial practices. While the city still shows a deficit in the General Fund, tied in large part to effects of Colorado’s TABOR measure, White said the deficit is shrinking. “It’s all positive,” White said, “a 180 from where it was two or three years ago.” White praised the austere management of city finances saying, “It’s a great job of management and city council in reducing that General Fund deficit.” But even with that said, the city continues to face financial challenges, aging infrastructure in water and sewer lines and major concerns about the condition of the long high-pressure natural gas pipeline. Walsenburg Treasurer Jim Moore noted the gas department showed only a slight profit of $79,000 last year, and said he was concerned the city is not going to be able to set aside enough money to meet major gas line repairs or replacement in the future. White said, of the 15 or so cities and towns he works with as a municipal auditor, Walsenburg is about in the middle of the pack when it comes to
earmarking funds for infrastructure improvements. The improving financial situation in the city can be tied to a number of factors, but revenues have mainly increased by raising water/ sewer rates and other fees. It appears the city will continue in that direction. Walsenburg Administrator David Johnston said Tuesday, “We will have to work on gas rates in the next couple of months.” Later in the meeting, city council unanimously approved the draft audit report, and it will be completed and forwarded to the state later this week. White said there were a few time consuming issues on the audit firm’s part this year in response to council member Silvana Lind’s comments regarding the amount of information council members were expected to digest in one brief overview of the audit prior to voting on acceptance in the same night. Administration said this would not happen next year as internal deadlines had been adjusted for presentation of the draft. In other business, the city council unanimously approved a water agreement with Martra Holdings. Concerns were voiced regarding a portion of the agreement that would require the city to partially reimburse Martra for water / sewer tap fees incurred by a third party user’s tap to original Martra infrastructure, when the overbuild (for future potential users) was requested by the city. Administration said that part of the agreement recognizes the city’s long-term desire to turn much of the newly annexed ranch land into an industrial park sometime in the future. As a footnote to the ranch development, in a recent special session of city council, members voted to approve the First Ranch Annexation on second reading. • Council accepted the CIRSA municipal insurance quote for the coming year at an estimated $6,000 increase over the current contract. • Unanimously approved a codification quote for publication of all city ordinances in a single source. • Voted unanimously to pass Ordinances 1076 and 1077 on first reading. Both items will require public hearings set for 5:30 pm Tuesday, October 6 as both deal with zoning. In the work session portion of the meeting council showed a concensus to pursue establishment of an Urban Renewal Authority before major rule changes go into effect next year.