County mulls tight capital budget for 2014
Ryan Summerlin November 13, 2013
Next year is going to be different from 2013 when it comes to Eagle County’s capital improvement projects.
This year has been an anomaly because the county was able to fund almost every single capital project.
“We had $10 million this year because we were saving for renovations at the Eagle River Center and then it was decided we would not to do the renovations because they were more than we could afford, which freed up the money that had been saved,” said Eagle County Controller Tom Hyatt.
For next year, the county is anticipating approximately $11 million in 2014 capital requests and about $3 million to work with. That means, for the most part, only the large top-tier projects and a few small projects are likely to be funded next year. Many other projects will essentially be on a wait list or find other funding sources.
Of the requests so far, the county’s capital projects committee recommended a total of about $2.5 million in funding for large projects and about $40,000 for small projects. Total funding requests for large projects is $6.5 million and $86,000 for small projects.
County Finance Director John Lewis said some capital requests are still being researched and are not on the list yet, such as overages on current construction projects, parking lot maintenance and “space needs.”
“It appears we will be running out of space (for some county departments) in the next five years and we are still working on a study,” Lewis said. “There are also some amounts of money that need to be reserved for parking lots in the next few years.”
There is a chance that ECO Transit might benefit from some restructuring in the funding system. The Red Dirt Bridge on Colorado River Road is scheduled for replacement. Grants are paying for most of the $3.6 million project, leaving the county road and bridge department with $603,000 to cover.
“Traditionally, the county splits that cost between road and bridge and the capital improvements fund,” Lewis said.
This year, however, the county commissioners are inclined to try a different strategy because road and bridge has enough in its fund balance to cover the entire cost of the Red Dirt Bridge. Instead of splitting that cost, the commissioners recommended the $300,000 be used toward the debt service on the Eagle County Maintenance Service Center, for a total of $811,000. More specifically, that money would be applied to the fleet service and ECO Transit branches.
ECO Transit Director Kelley Collier said that could translate into service on the road or toward a project like a park-and-ride facility.
“It depends if that savings is ongoing or just this one year,” she said.
For now, that debt-service savings is only for 2014, and it’s still uncertain until the final budget is approved, but Commissioner Sara Fisher said she would like it to become a fixed capital cost for the next three to five years.
Lewis added that even though road and bridge may end up paying the full $600K for the Red Dirt Bridge, it would also see savings through fleet service’s debt being covered.
Other capital projects currently recommended for funding in 2014 include (some projects may be paired with matching grants):
Justice Center debt service – $1.6 million
EnerGov software upgrade – $90,378
Continued work on Emergency Operations Center – $100,000
General capital improvements, such as roof repairs – $150,000
IT maintenance – $73,000
EAGLE-Net Connectivity – $82,500
Sheriff vehicle up-fits – $143,000
U.S. Highway 6 shoulder widening from Edwards to Avon – $163,000
Video conference system – $75,000
Security replacement doors at Eagle County Animal Services – $15,000
Playground surfacing at Miller Ranch Child Care – $10,000
800 MHz handheld radios – $14,855