Grand Junction Officials Propose $12 Million Budget Increase As City Coffers Run Over

<p>Alex Scoville/CPR News</p>
<p>Grand Junction&#039;s historic Main Street on Friday, July 13, 2018.</p>
Photo: Grand Junction Main Street
Grand Junction's historic Main Street on Friday, July 13, 2018.

Grand Junction city officials are proposing a budget increase for next year of more than $12 million.

City Manager Greg Caton submitted his recommended 2019 budget to the City Council Monday. He said an increase in sales tax revenues and regional economic growth have prompted the increase.

"We're continuing to invest in economic development to improve our regional economy and we're just now starting to see the fruits of that labor,” Caton said.

The Grand Junction area saw a slower rebound than the Front Range after the 2009 recession, Caton said. But now the city is experiencing an increase in jobs alongside more people moving to the area.

“It’s exciting to see our economy continue to recover and that is based upon our strategic directive of investing in our economy and working with our partners in our community to diversify our economy and grow jobs,” Caton said.

The city got directly involved in development by creating an outdoor recreation industry business park.

Caton said he has seen the retail, auto sales and construction industries pick up over the last two years.

The City Manager’s office is projecting a a conservative 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue for 2019, but it could reach over 8 percent, Caton said. Over the past 15 months, the city’s savings account balance has increased by more than $8 million.

Caton said this extra money will be used for mostly one-time capital expenditures, as to allow the city to remain adaptable for potential future downturns.

The focuses of the 2019 budget are infrastructure and public safety. The money will go to roads, water treatment, a 3.5 percent raise to all employee salaries and 18 new city jobs.

“We continue to deliver an extremely high level of services and programs to our residents at a very low cost,” Caton said. “We have one of the lower taxing rates throughout Colorado and we continue to deliver exceptional value to our residents for what they pay in taxes.”

The city will invite public comments on the proposed budget in November and vote on the plan in December. Final adoption is planned for Dec. 5