RIDGWAY – “You’re in good shape,” said Pete Blair, a CPA with Blair and Associates of Cedaredge, who gave Ridgway’s Town Council a synopsis of his look into the town’s finances at their regular meeting on Nov. 14.
“Your assets exceed your liabilities by about $7.5 million,” he said. “You have about $2 million in cash. You have no new debt.”
He was particularly complimentary of the town’s conservative budgeting. “Revenues stayed about the same, from 2010 to 2011. But your actual general fund balance grew in 2011. It’s about $535,000, which comes out to about six months of expenditures. That’s good. In 2010, you had $385,000 in the general fund, about three to four months worth of expenditures.”
Blair noted that expenses came in at less than the budgeted amount for all three funds: general, water and sewer. “It’s always good to be conservative on that,” he said.
He praised Town Clerk Pam Kraft for her help in preparing the audit.
“Pam deserves a lot of credit in the budgeting,” said Mayor John Clark, “keeping us conservative in the right areas.”
VISITOR CENTER NEEDS A NEW COAT OF PAINT
Once Blair left, Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Brian Scranton bolted to the fore: “Flush with cash! In good shape!”
Tongue only part way in cheek, Scranton took advantage of the good audit news at last week’s meeting to ask council, in the midst of their 2013 budget discussions, to consider helping RAAC spruce up the Visitor Center near the east entrance to town.
“The Visitor Center is such an important thing for Ridgway,” he said. “We had 6,500 visitors May through August this year – substantial.” Now RACC would like to perform some much-needed improvements.
“We’d like to change the building’s puke-yellow color to a better, non-puke color. And we want to convert our dirt farm [the Center’s 200 feet of highway frontage] to something better, do some landscaping. The chamber is willing to contribute $1,000 to the effort. Our request is for $3,000 from the town. Hopefully, you can squeeze us into your 2013 budget.
“Call it a $15,000 project,” Scranton said, “with $11,000 [in labor] coming from our volunteers. We simply need a little help.”
Mayor John Clark spoke for all present when he said, “We support this. It’s a matter of finding a way to squeeze out the money.”
Council then voted unanimously (Rick Weaver, RACC liaison, abstaining) to help fund the project.
STREETSCAPE COMMITTEE SEEKS MORE INPUT
Ridgway Streetscape Committee member Paula James updated the Ridgway Town Council last week on the effort to educate townspeople and gauge support for major improvements to the historic downtown business core.
The $3.5 million dollar undertaking, which would include sidewalks, lights, signs, benches, some street paving, tree planting and other improvements, has been years in the hatching.
“We think this is a good plan,” James said, “and the best thing to go forward with.” She said the committee “wanted to make sure voters understand this does involve a property tax, and it hits business owners harder than residents.”
The group commissioned an online survey. According to James, there were 134 responses. Eighty-four percent of registered voters were in favor of the plan and the bond package. But only 60 percent of business owners favored the plan, and just 55 percent favored the bond package.
Committee member Jill Markey said, “We are concerned the numbers aren’t higher.” To gather more input, the group has scheduled two more listening sessions, one on Dec. 3, location to be determined, and another, an open-to-the-public workshop with town council, on Dec. 5.
Mayor John Clark noted the difficulty with business owners who don’t happen to live in town and therefore couldn’t vote on the proposal. “They’re concerned this could be rammed down their throats.”
But, he concluded, “We can’t make everybody happy. I’m reminded of [past mayor] Don Batchelder’s famous quote: ‘You know you’re doing good if everybody’s mad at you.”
ENTREPRENEUR OFFERS FREE ELECTRONICS RECYCLING
Ridgway Town Clerk Pam Kraft briefed council at its regular meeting last week about a proposal from E-Waste Recyclers of Grand Junction to set up a free electronic waste recycling station in Ridgway, provided the town can offer a permanent space on town property.
The company takes computers, batteries, televisions, monitors, cell phones, etc., and already has locations in Telluride and Lake City, Kraft said.
“He needs a space big enough for a 4X4 pallet. He picks up once a month. Then he takes it back to Delta, or wherever, and disassembles and recycles the materials.”
Councilor Jason Gunning asked about privacy.
To which Councilor Eric Johnson replied, “If you don’t wipe your hard drive before recycling, that’s your problem.”
Mayor John Clark added, “My only concern is with people putting trash in the container. But I’m all in favor.”
Gunning: “As long as it’s free and he empties it on a regular basis.”
Clark asked Kraft to “have a chat with him before the weather goes bad.”