Dolores City Council approved a $ 2.04 million budget for 2021 that will fund a variety of services and include a large solar project, infrastructure upgrades and recreational facilities.
The budget is balanced, said Treasurer Tricia Gibson, which means no fund has expenses beyond the available resources, reserves and fund balances.
The budget for 2021 includes five accounting funds, including $ 988,609 for the General Fund, $ 407,706 for the Street Fund, $ 379,403 for the Water Fund, $ 265,105 for the Sewage Fund, and $ 4,000 for the Conservation Trust.
Despite the impact of the pandemic on local businesses and commerce, the city's 3.5% sales tax revenue continued on an upward trend.
It was a record heat for collecting sales taxes. Sales tax revenue for 2020 was $ 632,251 versus $ 458,144, an increase of 38%. Sales tax increased by 30% from 2018 to 2019.
Officials attributed the increase in sales to an increase in local shopping and internet sales.
“It really shows the power of local shopping. It makes a difference and it benefits your city, ”said Gibson.
However, negative economic impacts from the pandemic could be delayed, and officials believe sales tax revenues may decline this year but remain stable.
State income from severance payments and federal mineral leases decreased in 2020 and is expected to decrease further in 2021. State funding for motorway users is expected to decrease this year as well.
The city has $ 2 million in reserves, an amount that has fluctuated slightly up and down according to official figures, to cover improvements to water, roads, sewers, streets and parks. The 2021 budget calls for fund balances to be lowered in certain funds, but the city has reserves in all funds to offset a dramatic drop in revenue, Gibson said.
Capital improvements for 2021 include a solar project, road improvements, and park improvements.
A $ 294,604 grant, granted to Dolores by the Department of Local Affairs, will help fund the installation of solar panels in the town hall, city store, and sewage treatment buildings.
“The energy generated from our solar project will lead to long-term savings in city utility costs,” said city administrator Ken Charles. “Savings from lower bills are also used for projects that improve energy efficiency in city buildings.”
The grant pays 75% of the cost of the solar project. The city will contribute $ 98,000.
A major expense for the city is law enforcement. The city pays the Montezuma County's office of the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office $ 200,000 per year, including a dedicated deputy and assistance when needed. Under the contract, the city pays the sheriff's office to buy a new patrol car every three years and will buy one in 2021. The replaced vehicle will be handed over to the city.
Other issues planned for 2021 are:
4% increase in the cost of living for staff. Employee health insurance costs increased 6%. Staff in the city will remain at 2020 levels and will include four public works staff, one seasonal summer parks staff, part-time construction inspector and treasurer, as well as one full-time employee, assistant and city administrator.$ 31,000 for improvements to Joe Rowell Park, including shade structures, irrigation and concrete sidewalks in the playground, bear-proof containers, improvements to ball fields, and purchase of soccer goals.The city has also budgeted $ 27,000 for a major upgrade to its financial and utility billing software system. The current system dates from the 1990s and is no longer functional. The upgrade enables online invoice payment.The city has earmarked $ 50,000 for road improvements, including $ 40,000 chip-sealing Fourth Street from the river bridge to the intersection of County Road 31. Montezuma County plans to extend Road 31 to the intersection of Colorado Highway 184 improve.The city says it will continue to apply for grants for engineering studies and infrastructure upgrades.
The grants in 2020 totaled $ 603,870. These included $ 173,493 from Great Outdoors Colorado for the community playground, $ 293,630 from DOLA to build new water pipes, $ 25,000 from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment for water treatment improvements, $ 25,000 from DOLA for a land use code update, and US 7,700 -Dollars to update the city email system and the new city website.
The city was also awarded a CARES Act grant of $ 79,547 by DOLA. Of this, $ 40,000 was used to create a community grant program that provided numerous grants to Dolores companies and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. The remainder of the funds were used for IT upgrades to remotely conduct business in the city and improve the security of records and the continuity of operations.
Montezuma County donated an additional $ 10,901 to the City of Dolores to help cover expenses for personal protective equipment, teleworking and technology upgrades related to pandemics.