Hot Sulphur Springs: Budget aims for more police patrols, water storage | SkyHiNews.com

Hot Sulphur Springs: Budget aims for more police patrols, water storage

By Tonya Bina

Sky-Hi Daily News

The town of Hot Sulphur Springs may be the underdog of all Grand County towns when it comes to annual budget amounts.

In the 2008 budget adopted by the town board recently, Hot Sulphur Springs has revenues amounting to $188,838 in its general fund; expenditures are listed for the same amount.

“We don’t’ have a lot of wiggle room in our budget right now,” said Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor Hershal Deputy.

The general fund total reflects about 40 percent of the town’s total budget.

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The town’s water fund has $160,930 budgeted; the town’s sewer fund has $122,960 budgeted.

About 48 percent of the general fund is acquired through property taxes, according to Deputy, and 26 percent is from sales tax. The rest of revenues are made up of various fees.

“We have really good businesses in town,” Deputy said. “Yet a lot of them are service-oriented, so there is not a lot of sales tax revenue.”

More police presence

The town board’s focus on cutting expenses and raising revenue has given enough leeway to contract with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office to provide patrolling specific to Hot Sulphur’s town limits. The amount of $10,000 has been set aside in the 2008 budget to have a county deputy in town on an hourly basis. The contract is in response to citizens asking for more police coverage, especially in the summer, Deputy said.

Meanwhile, because of citizens’ cooperation to the town’s dog-leash law, the town has decided to cut back on its animal control contract hours with the county, recognizing that the mandate has been successful and citizens are in the habit of abiding by the rule.

Water storage

Finished with its final phase if a new sewer treatment plant, Hot Sulphur is now looking ahead to its next major capital improvement project.

Hot Sulphur, with a population of about 600-700, is growing at a rapid rate due to its attainable standard of living compared to other areas of eastern Grand County.

Because of this growth, the town is in dire need of increased water storage.

An engineer’s rough estimate of improved water treatment and augmented storage came in at $1.5 million.

The town is paying off its 10-year note for $200,000, with $180,000 remaining, for its matched state energy impact grant it received for its new sewer plant facility.

Deputy said the town hopes to fund its water-treatment necessities in much the same way, in pursuit of grant funds and possible loans, something the town’s public works director ” one of three Hot Sulphur Springs town employees ” will be working on in the coming year.

The quantity of water is not the issue as the town sits on senior water rights on the Colorado River.

What is at issue, however, is the town’s ability to store enough water for its growing population and demand for fire protection.

“We’re growing faster than we thought we would,” Deputy said. “We’re having a hard time keeping the water tank full during summer months.”

In response to this need, citizens were asked to voluntarily restrict their water use from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during past summers.

“The community has responded to help us out,” the mayor said.

Street projects

Streets are a major concern for the town, which faces an aging infrastructure and little money to improve it.

An estimate for paving all eight miles of the town’s streets came in at around $1.8 million; the board declined to take on the debt at this time.

In the 2008 budget, $15,600 has been set aside to complete annual road improvement chores ” fixing what can be fixed and ongoing dust control. Hot Sulphur plans to splurge a little on a more environmentally benign alternative to magnesium chloride, called “Soil Cement” to control dust. “It’s more expensive than mag chloride, but we’re happier with the environmental side of it and with its results,” Deputy said. “Every now and then, we get on the cutting edge,” he added with a grin.

New bridge to connect parks

Another project on Hot Sulphur’s horizon is a new bridge planned to connect the town park to Pioneer Park on the other side of the river.

“It’s one of our best assets,” Deputy said.

The town spent $15,000 from a grant to study the feasibility of the project and now intends to seek parks and recreation grants to pay for construction of the bridge.

With associated trails, the bridge itself and a pier, the project is estimated to cost $228,144.

“We assure people that it is not coming out of the general fund,” Deputy said.

The mayor is optimistic that the project could be accomplished during the next three years, depending on how many Great Outdoors Colorado grant cycles it takes to be awarded funds for the project.

Possible Town Hall improvement

A minor 2008 project is the town’s tentative plans to make the Hot Sulphur Springs Town Hall compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hot Sulphur election

All six trustee seats and the mayor’s seat will be up for re-election in April 2008. Citizens who are interested in serving on the town board for either a two- or four-year term are encouraged to pick up a packet at Town Hall starting on Feb. 11.

Citizens then have until Feb. 29 to obtain the necessary signatures to get on the 2008 ballot.

Hot Sulphur Springs Town Board meetings are conducted at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

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

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