Capital projects dominate Eagle County’s budget
A lot of Eagle County capital improvement projects are set for this year and the unexpected $400,000 roof repair on the Eagle County Building came at a good time, if there is such a thing.
Last week, commissioners reviewed the latest capital requests that will be included in the next supplemental budget on June 18.
“The good news is that this year we have enough CIP funds to do everything scheduled for this year and then some,” said Eagle County Public Works Director Ken Whitehead.
The fund total expected for the 2013 fiscal year is $10.4 million. So far, about $3.8 million has already been approved in the first two supplemental budgets. The third supplemental budget will also be approximately $3.8 million, leaving $4.1 million leftover that could roll into next year. At least $1.5 million is kept in reserves at all times for cash-flow purposes.
Putting a new roof on the Eagle County Building is an immediate priority. Earlier this year, its slate shingles started falling off, which is why some areas around the building are roped off.
“The roof was built 23 years ago and unfortunately the shingles weren’t installed properly,” Whitehead said. “It’s too late to go after those guys because of the length of time that’s gone by, and the contractor is out of business now anyway.”
That means the county will have to shoulder the unexpected cost of replacing the expensive slate shingles with new ones, which will be synthetic and better suited for Eagle’s climate.
“That roof will last 50 to 100 years,” Whitehead said.
The work is expected to cost $400,000.
A new roof on the old Courthouse Building next to the Eagle County Building was the original plan until the bigger roof problem surfaced. The old Courthouse project was budgeted for nearly $60,000. That project will be put off until next year, along with some likely solar projects.
The county will do solar design studies for installing panels on the old Courthouse and on smaller county buildings immediately south of the main Eagle County Building. Those studies are estimated at $60,000 and will be finished this year, which keeps the total CIP request the same as if the old Courthouse was left in this year’s budget.
“The old Courthouse can wait until next year,” Whitehead said. “It’s not a health or safety hazard.”
The solar panels will be put on the buildings next year as well.
Despite the unexpected cost of the county building roof, no projects were affected by it.
“We don’t have to delay anything because of this,” Whitehead said. “We were blessed.”
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office is planning a remodel and so is the IT department.
Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton presented a rough sketch plan to commissioners, outlining changes that will improve service before the next general election if the work is able to start on time. That project is budgeted for $200,000.
“Customers are getting frustrated,” Simonton said.
The IT department’s remodel is estimated at $310,000.
A gravel lot near the sports fields and pond at Freedom Park in Edwards will be paved for $342,892. The gravel lot has made it difficult to manage traffic during busy times and is prone to potholes. The Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District has asked Eagle County to help mitigate the situation.
The other lot receiving attention is on the north side of the Eagle County Justice Center. The pavement needs to be replaced and seal-coated after suffering damage from weathering and heavy equipment. It was originally budgeted for $342,000 but Whitehead said it would be much lower.
“I’m confident we can do it for $210,000 or less,” he said.
Again, however, that savings of $132,000 might be offset by a need at the District Attorney’s Office. Commissioner Jill Ryan and staff plan to investigate the need for a requested remodel there before the third, finalized CIP request comes up for review.
“We might end up using that $132,000 for the DA’s office,” Whitehead said.
Commissioners still plan on allocating $150,000 this year and in 2014 as a partnership with the town of Eagle for a $1 million study of Grand Avenue/U.S. Highway 6 improvements.
“Let’s allocate the money but not spend it – this may be a carry-forward for a year or two,” said Commissioner Sara Fisher.
She said plans with Highway 6 could change depending on the outcome of two grant applications for construction of an interchange for Eagle County Regional Airport.
“If both grants for the airport interchange fall through, the conversation becomes, ‘What will be the airport entrance for a long time to come?’” said Commissioner Jon Stavney.
Stavney acknowledged that as the incoming Eagle town manager, he wouldn’t vote against cost-sharing the Highway 6 study. Stavney started working for the town of Eagle in May and leaves his commissioner seat July 1. The Democratic Party is currently selecting a successor to finish the term Stavney was re-elected for last fall.
The $500,000 allocated for moving the baseball fields by the fairgrounds is up in the air. A deal has long been in place for a land swap with LaFarge, which has a gravel mine in the area. The ballfields will eventually be moved to where the current mine is and the area that now has the ballfields will be the new gravel mine.
Prior to the Great Recession, the ballfield move was anticipated to happen sometime around this year. The current mine has not been used up as quickly as anticipated, however, so the ballfields might not have to be moved for some time to come.
Whitehead encouraged commissioners to hold off on spending the $500K until after a closed-session attorney update scheduled for this week.
The remaining items receiving preliminary spending approval include, in order of priority:
$30,000 for an HVAC system at the county’s Miller Ranch housing complex in Edwards
$16,320 for insulation to compliment Miller Ranch HVAC system
$105,744 to be split with ECO Transit for an AVM system that will monitor real-time maintenance of the buses and other fleet vehicles.
$90,000 for digital radios at the Sheriff’s Department
$83,000 to help Red Cliff improve its water utilities
$25,183 to replace the projector and screen in the Eagle County Room where commissioner meetings are held and televised
$40,000 for a closed-circuit video transmitter
$50,000 to help Basalt build an underpass for a bus rapid transit system
$17,129 for a digital sign system for the entire county
$5,000 for a new video recording system at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office
Small CIP projects yet to be decided include:
$25,000 for a sidewalk between Highway 6 and Deer Boulevard in Eagle-Vail
$10,000 for an extended, east-west trail system though Eagle-Vail
$9,500 to install school-zone lights and signs in Eagle-Vail
Those units are all deed-restricted, meaning that only people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week can live there. That keeps the apartments out of the short-term rental pool and available to local residents.