The Pueblo Chieftan

Metro budget includes new hires, trails

The posted proposed budget for the Pueblo West Metropolitan District for 2014 is about $185,000 in the black, something District Manager Jack Johnston is pleased about.

“Despite a projected decline in tax revenues and increase in service provision costs, we are pleased the 2013 general fund budget draft reflects a positive balance,” Johnston said.

Metro District board members have held several meetings to discuss budget items.

The finalized budget must be adopted by the Board by Dec. 15 and will include public input at the Nov. 12 meeting.

Some of the larger or more notable items in the budget are detailed here but for complete budget details, visit www.pueblowestmetro.com to see the entire posted proposed budget.

One full-time plant operator for the water and waste water departments is proposed for hire. This would allow for three operators per shift during peak season, which would help lower overtime and ensure that all standards and practices are followed.

Also proposed for hire is another full-time employee in the Information Technology Department, as a help desk coordinator, so that there are two employees responsible for day-to-day operations of the District’s computers and phone system.

Included in the budget is $1,621,053 for construction of new trails, completion of Civic Center Park and various repairs to parks and recreation facilities.

The budget calls for a proposed rate increase on both water and waste water rates. A 10-year rate study was presented to the board in 2012. Johnston said the major factors for rate increases include looking ahead at what money will be necessary to acquire water or water rights, replace pipes and tanks and more.

The potential Soaring Eagles Sports Complex was a line item in this year’s budget, but the District has decided to put money into other recreation things like Civic Center Park, Johnston said. The line item will disappear in the 2014 budget, and the unused money from this year go back to Metro District reserves.

There is money budgeted for repairs to the Pueblo West pool, after drainage and pipe issues were discovered late in the summer. Johnston said there was some discussion about seeking grants for a new pool or expansion, but the District feels the best option right now is to make repairs to the aging pool so it is ready to go next summer.

Another item discussed, but ultimately not put into the budget, was expansion of fire station two to be fully staffed.

“In the short term we could stretch out our staffing, but to have a really functional station over there with on-site residence, we would have to add more staffing, and we can’t project that we could fund that right now,” Johnston said.

Currently there are six full-time firefighters, three at each station, during the day, as well as three command staff, and if station two was expanded to full-time, those numbers would shrink to two firefighters per station – a small number. Johnston said they will watch tax revenues during the next year or two to see if expansion – including hiring of more firefighters – is realistic.

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