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November 9, 2012
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Grand Lake aims to pay down debt

GRAND LAKE - Town officials have set aside funds for boardwalk and road projects in the draft 2013 Grand Lake budget.

Out of the total $4.2 million town budget, as much as $105,000 has been earmarked for boardwalk work at the town park, and another $200,000 is being budgeted for paving projects in town. Upon evaluation of roads, Grand Lake's road and bridge department determines which will receive the work.

Grand Lake's draft budget shows $2.8 million in general fund expenditures, but that number includes an $868,000 line item serving as a placeholder for a 2014 bridge project, according to Grand Lake Treasurer Gay Dzinski. The project is rehabilitation of the West Portal Bridge, she said, with grant support from the Colorado Department of Transportation in the amount of $700,000.

Because this line item is in the 2013 budget, with the expenditure scheduled for 2014, the draft budget is artificially inflated, she said, and the general fund is actually about $2 million.

In Grand Lake's water enterprise fund, the town is planning on paying off its debt service in the amount of $169,000 of a drinking water revolving loan it took out in 1997 for water infrastructure. The town was scheduled to pay off the loan in 2017, but officials have opted to budget a pay-off in 2013 because the interest paid on the loan was more than the interest earned on reserves, Dzinski said. "It was the fiscally responsible thing to do," she said.

The marina fund at the town will also be ridding itself of debt, with a $98,000 loan pay-off to the town's general fund. The $200,000 general-fund loan was made to the Headwaters Marina for start-up when the town acquired it in 2007.

The town's fourth fund, the Pay As You Throw program that allows visitors and residents to throw trash in special trash bags into a town-owned Dumpster, is "holding its own" in its second full year of operation, according to Dzinski. Pay As You Throw is predicted to close out 2012 with $12,000 in the black. Town trustees have budgeted $13,000 for the program over 2013 to purchase more bags to be retailed, to pay for trash removal and for monitoring. It is the intent of the town to build up reserves in that fund to someday make improvements to the site, Dzinski said.

As far as personnel expenses, the town board is still determining whether to budget for raises. The town is expecting increases in health insurance benefits, but won't find out percentages of increases until mid-November.

Also in the works are budget decisions on grant requests. So far, the town has budgeted $49,000 in contributions for 18 different nonprofits; some of that expenditure is in-kind.

Grand Lake's general fund is estimated to start off 2013 with a $1.04 million starting fund balance.

Sales taxes in Grand Lake have been steadily increasing the past two years, with a 5.8 percent increase in 2012 over last year to date, coming in at $906,000.

The next public hearing on Grand Lake's budget is scheduled for Nov. 12.

- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Nov 9, 2012 11:56AM Published Nov 9, 2012 11:55AM Copyright 2012 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.