Economic hard times hit Granby | SkyHiNews.com

Economic hard times hit Granby

Tonya Bina
tbina@grandcountynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Hard hit by the economy from shrinking use tax, flat sales tax and the lack of outlying development, Granby’s first draft of the 2009 budget shows an across-the-board tightening of town finances and the elimination of one director position.

The draft budget reflects cuts in every department and the layoff of Downtown Enhancement Director Betsy Cook, a significant move necessary in order to balance the budget, said Town Manager Wally Baird.

Budget notes say the position layoff would save the town about $80,950 in savings, a number that includes the employee’s benefits and salary.

Cook, the point person for creating vitality in Granby’s downtown, was employed in April 2006 to head the department created in 2005 out of a wave of annexed development. As developers borrowed to create resort communities around Granby, development fees funded recreation, affordable housing and downtown development.

But major slow-downs in the economy has put off building, causing Granby to fiscally respond.

Last year, Granby budgeted $535,863 for its economic development arm, but actual numbers are projected to be $347,901. The 2009 budget shows slashed expenses in the department at $146,928.

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Baird said the department was not completely cut in hopes downtown enhancement committees can continue the work, such as Granby’s Main Street designation, downtown events, downtown aesthetics such as planters and banners and marketing. The department has maintained business facade loan and grant programs and instigated studies on wayfinding signage, entrepreneurships and downtown economics.

Cook, who is currently working to recruit a dry cleaner to town, declined to comment Monday on the proposal, but said the Granby Chamber of Commerce is proposing to adopt department responsibilities in the event current budget numbers are passed.

The Granby draft budget reflects other bold moves, such as withholding grants to nonprofits ” estimated to save $41,000 ” as well as holding off on $50,000 for sidewalk improvements and $35,000 for the purchase of a new police car.

If town trustees agree to the budget, there also will be major cutbacks on the use of outside consultants.

Although a great portion of consultant charges were reimbursed by developers, Baird established that “Granby uses consultants to a greater extent than all of the surrounding local government entities,” he wrote in an Oct. 24 memo to the town board.

According to the ’09 draft budget, planning duties would be performed in-house by current town staff, said Baird ” a former planner ” saving about $43,500 in planning expenses.

The Granby town budget also reflects more judicious use of Town Attorney Scott Krob. The town expects attorney costs will amount to $78,000 by the end of this year.

According to Baird, cutting back from sending everything to the attorney for review and completing more tasks in-house, the town aims to save about $30,000 on legal in ’09. “Not everything needs to go to the town attorney, and he agrees,” Baird said.

One major project town staff budgeted to tackle is repaving Jasper Avenue. The draft budget reflects street money transferred from the capital fund and reimbursed insurance dollars from the town hall reconstruction fund.

The project, however, was pared down from its original estimate of $1.8 million to $1.35 million.

“We’ll do what we can with that amount of money,” Baird said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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