Grand Junction budget also lower, but includes capital projects

The Grand Junction City Council expects to spend less in 2014 than 2013, but still fund a list of capital projects as well as economic development and community partnerships.

Mayor Sam Susuras said the budgeting process was a lengthy one for the council and city staff. “It proved to be a tough exercise as we continue to work with revenues that are slow to rebound.

I am proud of the work that went into this and I feel it is a very responsible, balanced budget,” Susuras said.

The council approved  a budget of $132.4 million for 2014. That’s about $13 million, or 8 percent, less than the 2013 budget. City tax revenues are projected to remain flat next year.

A fund balance of more than $19 million will remain in the general fund.

While most operating expenses are also expected to remain flat, the budget includes a 2.5 percent increase in labor costs as a result of higher health insurance costs split between the city and employees as well as pay raises designed to bring salaries in line with other municipalities and the labor market. No new positions were added in the 2014 budget.

The overall budget for capital spending was reduced with the completion of several large projects in 2013, including public safety facilities, infrastructure for two new truck stops and swimming pool improvements.

Nonetheless, the list of projects for 2014 includes an Horizon Drive interchange, improvements along North Avenue, the beginning of development of the Las Colonias Park and the renovation of the Avalon Theater downtown. Street and sidewalk improvements also are planned, as are water and sewer line replacements.

The 2014 city budget also allocates $2 million to economic development and community partnerships.