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Walsenburg in dire economic straights

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- Finance Committee Chairman James England put a somber mood to the beginning of Tuesday night’s City Council by announcing that Walsenburg is almost $400,000 in the hole, with $200k to $300k of that coming from lost revenues with the prison closing.  Walsenburg’s scaling back of the police department will no longer be enough to staunch the losses, and layoffs will have to begin (See related story).

     ”Walsenburg is in dire financial straights,” England intoned, “and we need to right our financial ship.”  England said the City will begin shifting is bookkeeping from the modified accrual system to a municipal cash basis system, so the City would have a more accurate idea of how much cash they had on hand on any given day.

    City Administrator Alan Hein gave his report to the Council, which echoed England’s warning of tight times and layoffs.  Hein released a written statement describing a “restructuring plan” where he also described the City as being in “serious financial distress” and that restructuring would need to be fully implemented to avoid further downfalls.

    Hein also talked about the Wastewater treatment facility, which he has worked very hard at to reduce construction costs, but is still looking at a $649,000 budget overrun.

    The Martin Lake valve replacement project is right on track, with work on the valve itself expected to begin next week, and the project to wrap up in 35 to 45 days.

    City Treasurer Jacque Sikes was next up, and she questioned the validity of having taxes generated in the Northlands District going solely to the Northlands General Improvement District.  It was her contention it should be put in the general fund.  Though the Council generally agreed, it was felt there needed to be more clarification as to what goes where and why.  Finally the City accepted a bid for $36,412 to repair 50 feet of corroded gas line at the border station.