Two budget items remain on today’s town council agenda

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The Pagosa Springs Town Council meets today at noon, with two items of particular interest on the agenda— the continued discussion concerning the 2015 budget and the grant application for the first phase of the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership’s project in Centennial Park.

The budget 

On Sept. 18, Town Manager Greg Schulte presented the preliminary budget to council. Shortly thereafter, several work sessions were scheduled with each department head so council could hear how much money will be needed for next year and how it will be spent.

The town then held a special meeting on Oct. 29, where Schulte presented a condensed list of six major questions. Since this was a meeting instead of a work session, the council was able to hold votes and make decisions, assuming it could reach a consensus.

However, the issues at hand were not simple, and the council only had enough time to deal with three of them during that first meeting — the 8th Street reconstruction project, service organizations and economic development.

The remaining three items on the list — legal expenses, court security and additional personnel — were tabled until the Nov. 4 regular Town Council meeting.

The first two items on this second list were resolved with relatively little pain, but even after discussing the issue of hiring new people for over an hour, a final decision could not be reached and the topic was tabled. Schulte warned that council must have everything resolved and be ready to adopt the final budget by its first meeting in December.

During the budgetary work sessions, several of the town’s department heads put in requests for additional personnel.

Town Clerk April Hessman asked for a records/human resources clerk, which would cost $56,000. Police Chief William Rockensock asked for an additional police officer, which would cost $55,000. Town Planner James Dickhoff asked for an associate planner, which would cost $49,000. Court Administrator Candace Dzielak asked for a municipal court clerk, which would cost $47,000. Finally, Parks and Recreation Director Tom Carosello asked for an events coordinator, which would cost $20,000.

Council made short work of accepting the events coordinator and rejecting the new police officer and court clerk.

The issue then boiled down to an argument between Schulte and Hessman as to whether or not the town could afford to hire a records clerk or an associate planner.

Schulte argued that there is no room in the budget, as it stands now, to add any new positions. The only way to make it work would be to fudge the numbers on how much revenue the town expects to receive next year. To add just one more person, the expected revenue would have to be increased by 6 percent.

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