Fraser 2010 Budget: ‘Shave Everywhere’ | SkyHiNews.com

Fraser 2010 Budget: ‘Shave Everywhere’

Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi Daily News

Taking a conservative approach to its budget and anticipating several bad years to come, on Dec. 2 the Fraser Board of Trustees adopted a $5.3 million overall budget for 2010 (excluding the joint facilities fund, which it will also manage in 2010).

The budget, which increases the town’s property taxes by 15 percent, projects $2.2 million in revenue in 2010 and $2.4 million in general fund expenditures.

Planned spending would draw down the town’s reserves by some $200,000, leaving a $1.7 million general fund balance at the conclusion of 2010.

Sales taxes will continue to bring in the vast majority of the town’s income in 2010. Despite an 18 percent decrease in sales tax revenue since 2008, Fraser is holding the line on its projections, budgeting $1.6 million in sales tax revenue for 2010 even though 2009 revenues are expected to total $1.475 million by year’s end.

With little fat remaining in the budget, manager Jeff Durbin said the hopeful sales tax projection is a trade-off.

“We’re holding the line on our projection from 2009, otherwise we’d have to cut further into the general fund balance,” he said.

The message of this year’s budget season was “shave everywhere,” Durbin said. Board members commended staff prior to the budget adoption last week for reducing expenditures by $750,000 since 2008.

Capital expenditures for 2010, totaling $95,000, include the purchase of several new town vehicles and a new patrol car for the police department.

The town’s contribution to marketing and events with the Chamber of Commerce for 2010 is $78,280.

The budget sets aside $14,000 in grant funds for community organizations, including $4,500 for Headwater Trails Alliance and $4,500 for Grand Beginnings. There’s no contribution to the library in Fraser’s budget this year, although $5,000 in emergency reserves has been set aside for the library and other organizations should they have a budget crisis due to the lack of funding.

“When sales tax plummeted with the opening of City Market in 2004, we really had to turn our focus on essential services. Contributions was one of the major things that got cut,” Durbin said. The town now helps community organizations primarily through in-kind donations.

Fraser received a total $1.5 million in grants and awards to the community last year, which will be used for projects in 2010, Durbin said. On the books for completion is a $160,000 in improvements to Lions Fish Pond and $650,000 in water infrastructure projects using federal stimulus funds. The town is also looking at an open space project near the old wastewater ponds in 2010.

The biggest challenge this year was the incorporation of the Fraser Sanitation District into the town’s budget, Durbin said. Wastewater treatment was given its own designated fund, separate from the general fund and non-transferable.

The town eliminated the mills associated with the dissolved wastewater district and increased fees to cover costs. The board set 2010 wastewater rates at $121 per quarter per single family equivalent, and it set water rates at $119 per quarter for water per single family equivalent, although the town is looking at changing water to a metered, usage-based rate for 2011.

The total annual combined water and wastewater bills for single family equivalents in 2010 will be $960, regardless of the value of the home.

Properties with high assessed values will see a decrease in fees from what it could have cost in 2010 had the district remained solvent and increased fees as discussed. Properties with an assessment below $300,000 may see a slight increase overall, according to charts.

“The bottom line is that the town is not cutting any services or programs,” Durbin said.

– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or rarmstrong@skyhidailynews.com.


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