With Kiowa residents voting against a 1.5 percent sales tax increase in November, and the COVID-19 pandemic causing a decrease in projects that would purchase water from the town, the 2021 budget is looking pretty lean, according to Town Administrator Maria Morales. The good news, however, is since the town no longer funds a police department, money historically used for law enforcement will now be used to improve roads.
“This year has been challenging,” said Morales. “With the water authority we are not getting as much revenue as we’ve had in the past, mainly because we sell a lot of bulk water to Limon and surrounding towns. With COVID, a lot of projects stopped, so we’re not able to sell bulk water. In prior years we were looking at more than $100,000, this year we’re going to end up with about $30,000.”
Morales said funding for the police department was just over $80,000 each year. That money will now be used to replace and pave roads.
“Since we don’t have a police department, we’re going to have more money to actually replace parts of road that need asphalt,” said Morales. “This year we only had $40,000 and we did the alleys, and an emergency fix on cracks throughout the town. Next year we are going to tackle starting to repair roads and replace asphalt. That’s the biggest thing happening with the 2021 budget.”
Between the general fund, conservation trust fund, road and street fund, water operations fund and the sewer operations fund, the town’s balance heading into the new year is just $298,333. Salaries and wages projected for 2021 are budgeted at $89,000, a majority of which is paid for through the state of Colorado for Morales’ salary, through a Local Government Management Program, which trains retired military personnel to serve in local government roles. Morales’ salary will be paid through the program for another three years.
In 2020 the town paid $20,000 for dispatch services for an IGA repayment, and $10,000 for code enforcement. The 2021 projection allows for only $4,000 total for any law enforcement related expenses.
Morales said they had to get creative in 2020, and 2021 is looking even more challenging.
“In the past we have had public works conduct some of our water chores,” said Morales. “This year I took my public works out of the water authority and we have switched around job descriptions so my utility clerk is going to be doing meter reading.”
Morales said some projects will have to be put on the back burner due to the decrease in revenue coming in for 2020.
“The town is aware of the very expensive water tower we have, we still have a $5 million debt,” said Morales. “Our draining and water system is old, we are trying to change that. But the fact that we didn’t make that much money pushes things off. We have sewer lines that need to get cleaned, and we are tentatively speaking to a developer to build homes, but because of the location of the water tower we need to have another well.”